Utes and Cougars both ranked in AP Top 25
By Rustyn Burnside, ESPN 977
The welcome winds of football are in the air. Whether player A or player B should be the overall number one pick in your fantasy draft has once again resumed as the office’s main topic of discussion. The stands fill with fans every Friday night at your local High School. The local twitter feed has changed from what to do with Donovan Mitchell, to why Utah is better than BYU and vice versa. And as is tradition since 1950, the Associated Press released their top 25 College Football preseason poll, with Alabama sitting comfortably on top.
The 63 writers and voices of college sports shined the light on the beehive state by selecting both the University of Utah and Brigham Young University as some of the best that college football has to offer. The Cougars found themselves right on that bubble, coming in at spot #25. This is right below two American Athletic teams in Cincinnati and Houston, and right above those who missed the cut. This includes Tennessee and their 180 votes, alongside Texas with 164 votes.
The Cougars have made the preseason poll for the 12th time in school history per BYU broadcasting Senior Sports Producer, Jarom Jordan. He went on to tweet that is the third time since 1998 they have been featured, and the first time since 2009. Jordan would also mention that with the exception of the pandemic altered schedule in 2020, BYU plays an average of 2.7 teams who finish ranked in the Final AP top 25 poll. Although we have yet to see where these teams finish, BYU will have a slate against four Pre-season darlings looking to keep that statistic consistent.
The first game of the year in LaVell Edwards Stadium (Sep. 10th) is the Baylor Bears who were placed at #10. After this slugfest, BYU will be rewarded by headed into Duck country the very next week to take on Oregon’s quack attack. The Ducks sit right behind Baylor at #11.
Despite the heat coming early the biggest projected battle will be a neutral tilt out in the desert of Las Vegas against #5 Notre Dame on the 8th of October, in which the black hole will fill with Royal Blue. The very next week will see the Cougars return to Provo for Homecoming on October 15th where they will face the Razorbacks of Arkansas who sit #19. All four of these games will happen in a six-game span with former Mountain West rival, Wyoming, and in state rival Utah State separating the two back-to-back battles. Utah State is known to have received some votes for the Aggies in the preseason poll as well. The Cougars will head out to take on Boise State out on the smurf turf, November 5th. The Broncos were shown some love in the preseason poll with a couple votes as well.
Jordan would also throw in the fact that BYU has gone 4-23 in these types of games since going independent, considering when an opponent finishes the season ranked in the top 25. This includes Utah and Utah State in 2021, Boise Sate in 2019, and Utah State in 2012. BYU will hope to buck the trend this year in impressive fashion. The Cougars open the season in Raymond James Stadium against South Florida on September Third.
Despite Utah and BYU not playing this year for the first time in a full season since 2014, there will be plenty of debate over the schedule and success between Cougar and Ute fans. The Salt Lake City faithful had some firepower added to their in-state banter by seeing the U tabbed at #7 in the AP Preseason Top 25. This is a big deal, as it shows how high the expectations are in the soon to be snowcapped mountains. Not to mention, this is the highest preseason spot in the entire history of the school. This is the sixth time Utah has graced the preseason poll with an average place of 17.7 per the College Poll Archive. All eyes are certainly on Utah and these expectations come after the team won their first PAC-12 title and appeared in the Rose Bowl for the first time ever. As big as 2021 was for the Utes, 2022 has the potential to be more.
The Utes were right behind #6 Texas A & M of the SEC. They held off The University of Michigan at #8. Utah is also the highest ranked team from the PAC-12, with the traditional go to, Oregon sitting at #11. USC had a down year last season, but after a school shakeup, the experts expect the Trojans to bounce back as they rounded out the PAC-12 teams in the top 25 at #14.
It goes without saying, but ill say it anyway. The Utes will be play two teams this year who are ranked in the top 25 AP preseason poll, both being the conference teams we just broke down. #14 USC will be a home battle on October 15th at Rice-Eccles. #11 Oregon will host the Utes in Eugene on November 19th, where we will have a very good idea if these pre season expectations have come to fruition. Utah will play others who could find themselves in the top 25 at some point as the year progresses. The Utes kick off the season in the swamp against a dangerous Florida team. The Gators were amongst other teams who received votes in this poll. The Aztecs out in San Diego State also received a few votes and will visit the Utes on September 17th for a week 3 matchup. Another PAC-12 team that got a vote or two was UCLA, who will play Utah in conference play on October 8th with home field advantage.
Brett McMurphy, college football insider for Action network, pointed out something in Utah’s favorite after the preseason poll. He shared that since 2004, every national champ was ranked among AP preseasons poll in top 7 specifically. The only exception was 2010 Auburn and 2013 Florida State, who were both ranked however just not in the top 7. Sitting exactly at 7, the Utes fit that mold. Expectations and anticipation reign supreme at the U of U. Once again, The Pac-12 favorite will kick off week one with an immediate test in Florida against the Gators on September Third.
Utah at 7, BYU at 25. With either team yet to play a snap this year, fans will continue to debate and argue who is deserving of what. Expect the terms overrated and underrated to dominate your social media feeds as fans debate. We may not know until the season starts who should be “rated” where, but we certainly know where these two teams rank headed into what should be a great year for college sports in the state of Utah.