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Utah is in the middle of Week 2 of fall camp, and the season is still a few weeks away, but the program has already made history.

Monday morning, the USA Today coaches poll was released and the Utes received their highest preseason ranking ever — No. 8.

Yes, expectations are sky-high for Utah, which is the defending Pac-12 champ and picked to repeat in 2022. The Utes are also considered a contender for the College Football Playoff.

Utah coaches and players are working to prepare for the season, which kicks off Sept. 3 at Florida. They know that being a preseason top-10 team is sign of respect. But they don’t want their ranking to be a distraction.

“Don’t get me wrong. It’s an honor that they view us as a top-10 team. And I believe that we are a top-10 team. Shoot, I believe we are a top-five team,” said wide receiver Devaughn Vele. “But it’s one of those things where we don’t want that to be in the front of our mind. The front of our mind should be that Florida game. Going 1-0. That’s our weekly goal.”

Related
Why Utah’s season-opener at Florida is so crucial for the Utes — and the Pac-12

We’re approaching the dog days of August. There’s still a lot of work to do before the trip to Gainesville.

“We’ve got all of this week and all of next week. Then school starts,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “The game is still far out there. We’ve got to stay focused and mentally tough. We’ve got to continue to grind. That’s what it is right now.”

In case you missed it

ESPN’s Heather Dinich identified Utah as one of four teams in the country that has the best chance of cracking the College Football Playoff for the first time. Dinich ranked the Utes as the second-most likely of the four to reach the CFP, behind Texas A&M and ahead of Pac-12 foe USC and Oklahoma State.

Numbers game

8: Where Utah landed in the USA Today coaches preseason poll, its highest preseason ranking ever. 

14: Where Utah was ranked in the preseason poll in 2019, its previous highest preseason ranking.

From the archives

Related
‘This is the best program in the Pac-12’: What anonymous coaches say about the Utes
What Eagles reporters and his coach are saying about undrafted rookie Britain Covey
What about a Utah-Alabama rematch … in this year’s CFP semifinals?

Extra points

  • This former Utah Ute is now working with the BYU Cougars (Deseret News)
  • Utah ties transaction tracker: Chase Hansen is back with the New Orleans Saints (Deseret News)
  • What are Morgan Scalley’s early impressions of Utah’s defense? (Deseret News)
  • Why a more focused, more serious Tavion Thomas is so vital to Utes’ offense (Deseret News)
  • How QB Cam Rising’s improved arm strength could impact Utah’s offense (Deseret News)
  • Utah will usher in new Utes sports year with fan event at Rice-Eccles Stadium (Deseret News)
  • How does Utah stack up against college football’s blue blood programs in the latest preseason rankings? (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

This puts Utah in position to fulfill high expectations and do some serious damage this year. Well done. Well earned.

— Crazy in California

If Covey wasn’t built like a bowling pin (bottom heavy) and had an upper body that could be built up, he’d be a lock in the NFL. He is just so small, like tiny. But, he’s that good of a playmaker, a great locker room presence, and is incredibly smart ... somebody will snarf him up and he may make a team for a few years ... who knows?

View Comments

— Utah-Hawaii Alum

(Cam Rising is) going to be fun to watch. I really like his swagger. Good luck in Gainesville. If Utah and Oregon can show well against Florida and Georgia it would take the SEC down a peg and that would be good for all college football in my opinion.

— Groucho Marks

Up next

Aug. 10 | 7 p.m. | Soccer | vs. Idaho State | @Salt Lake City

Sept. 3 | 5 p.m. | Football | vs. Florida | @Gainesville, Florida | ESPN

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham looks on during practice Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. | Hunter Dyke, Utah Athletics
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