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Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was right all along about the Pac-12 race

In this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, there are six Pac-12 teams — No. 6 USC, No. 9 Oregon, No. 13 Washington, No. 14 Utah, No. 18 UCLA and No. 21 Oregon State

SHARE Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was right all along about the Pac-12 race
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham celebrates Utes victory over Stanford in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham celebrates a victory over Stanford in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. The Utes close out the regular season Saturday at Colorado.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Credit Utah coach Kyle Whittingham — he called it a long time ago.

Whittingham insisted that no team would go undefeated in Pac-12 play this season.

And he was right. 

Now, heading into the final weekend of the regular season, his team, as well as Oregon and Washington, have a shot to get to the Pac-12 championship game against USC on Dec. 2 in Las Vegas. 

In this week’s College Football Playoff rankings, there are six Pac-12 teams — No. 6 USC, No. 9 Oregon, No. 13 Washington, No. 14 Utah, No. 18 UCLA and No. 21 Oregon State. 

Is this the most competitive the Pac-12 has been since Utah joined the league in 2011? 

“It could be. I said at the onset that I didn’t think anybody was going to go undefeated through conference play,” Whittingham said. “We have a tradition of cannibalizing ourselves and this year is no different.

“I would say it’s as competitive, if not more so, than any in recent years. There never seems to be a clear-cut, dominating team that just breezes through the schedule. It just doesn’t happen. At least it hasn’t in a long time.”

It says a lot that Utah, the defending Pac-12 champions, could finish 9-3 overall and 7-2 in Pac-12 play — if it can beat Colorado — and it is regarded as a disappointment. 

Whittingham said that disappointment could be viewed as “a compliment” in regard to how far the program has come since becoming a member of the league and the respect it now commands. 

The Utes have played in the Pac-12 championship game in three of the previous four seasons. 

The fact that Utah has been in contention for the conference title deep in November in recent years is “extremely gratifying,” Whittingham said. 

“It speaks to the talent and competitiveness of our players,” he added. “We have those types of players because our assistant coaches do such a great job of bringing in the right type of player into this program, from a talent-standpoint, and an attitude-standpoint, and a character-standpoint. We’ve been in the hunt for a lot of years deep into the season.”


Utes on the air

No. 14 Utah (8-3, 6-2)

at Colorado (1-7, 1-10)

Saturday, 2 p.m. MST

Folsom Field 

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: ESPN 700