A signature moment in Utah football’s history came on Jan. 2, 2009, when the Utes beat blue blood program Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl.

If the hype surrounding the Utah program this season comes to fruition, the Utes could again be presented with the chance for another momentous moment in the school’s history.

Following Utah’s first Pac-12 championship and first Rose Bowl appearance a year ago, and with a strong contingent of key players returning, the Utes are considered by many as a College Football Playoff contender heading into the 2022 season.

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd — in previewing 22 “compelling storylines” for the upcoming season, which is three weeks away — went as far as designating the Utes as a playoff team.

“Kyle Whittingham has reached the peak of his career entering Year 18. The Utes have the (physicality) to match up with anyone and the ability to go undefeated. They open the 2022 season ranked No. 4 in the CBS Sports 131,” Dodd wrote.

In projecting this year’s New Year’s Six bowl matchups, Dodd has Utah facing Alabama in the Peach Bowl semifinal, with Ohio State and defending national champion Georgia in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal. 

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Dodd then predicts Alabama beating Ohio State for the 2022 national title.

For Utah, the drive to a potential CFP berth — which would be the first of the program’s kind — it all starts with the season opener, a Sept. 3 matchup in SEC country at Florida.

That’s one game that Dodd highlighted from an action-packed opening weekend of college football.

“If the Utes are playoff contenders this would be a signature win in Florida coach Billy Napier’s first game. Napier himself also has the chance to make quite a statement given the home-field advantage of The Swamp,” Dodd wrote.

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