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Utes just barely out of top 25 in first coaches poll, BYU also getting votes

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham and USC Trojans head coach Clay Helton shake hands
Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham and USC Trojans head coach Clay Helton shake hands after the Trojans’ win at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The first USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll of the 2021 college football season was released Tuesday, and the Utah Utes just barely missed being in the top 25.

The Utes are atop the list of “others receiving votes” with 145 points, essentially ranking them 26th in the country to start the season. They are just four points behind 25th-ranked Ole Miss.

Elsewhere in the Beehive State, the BYU Cougars are essentially ranked 31st in the country with 53 points, 15 points behind fellow independent Liberty.

The Cougars finished the 2020 season with an 11-1 record and ranked 16th in the College Football Playoff rankings and No. 11 in The Associated Press Top 25.

Utah finished 3-2.

As has been the case for a number of years, the poll gives the impression that the Utes’ conference, the Pac-12, might not have a great team this year, but a number of very good ones. Oregon is the top-ranked team from the conference at No. 12, USC is No. 14 and Washington is No. 21.

Arizona State is two spots behind Utah with 90 points, while UCLA received seven points and Stanford and Cal one each, along with Marshall and Florida State.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is one of the 65 voters in the poll, as is new Utah State coach Blake Anderson.

In Tuesday’s poll, Alabama is ranked No. 1 in the country. Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Georgia round out the top five.