UTE HUB

dystopiamembrane
3

2022 College Football Playoff sleepers to watch from each Power 5 conference

Here’s a closer look at seven teams not named AlabamaOhio State or Georgia that could make a surprise run at the College Football Playoff…

Utah

Preseason FPINo. 15

ESPN’s updated Way-Too-Early Top 25No. 4

Statement game: Sept. 3 at Florida. This is a chance to impress the selection committee on the road against an SEC team — an accomplishment that could separate Utah from another Power 5 contender (or Notre Dame) if the Utes win the Pac-12 again. (That’s assuming, of course, that Florida has a respectable season under first-year coach Billy Napier). Yes, Utah can lose this game and still finish in the top four — a Pac-12 title can compensate for a tough road loss in the opener — but if it starts 0-1, the Utes will be under pressure to win out and repeat as Pac-12 champs. They’ll need the mulligan in league play, especially if Riley can raise USC quickly, and if they’re really a playoff contender, they should win this opener.

Why to take them seriously: The Utes are coming off their first Rose Bowl appearance in school history and have the pieces in place to build off of last year’s conference title. Starting quarterback Cameron Rising returns, along with running back Tavion Thomas. With USC and Oregon both under new head coaches, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham has the edge in experience, and his foundation is set, as 14 total starters from that Rose Bowl game return.

Biggest hurdle: Winning on the road. It starts in Gainesville, but Utah has six road games, including particularly difficult trips on Oct. 8 at UCLA, a Thursday night game on Oct. 27 at Washington State and Nov. 19 at Oregon. Utah’s inability to win road games last year at BYUSan Diego State and Oregon State cost the Utes a truly historic season.

espn.com article