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Utah is coming into the Big 12 favored to win a title in yet another league

Posted at 7:21 PM, Jul 09, 2024

LAS VEGAS — Utah has won 26 conference championships in five different leagues, most recently capturing two Pac-12 titles and appearing in four championship games during its 13 seasons in that league.

Now the Utes are favored to win the Big 12 in their inaugural season in the league, according to the preseason media poll.

“It’s much different than when we went into the Pac-12 because we were coming from G5 to P5, and we were not really on an even playing field yet,” coach Kyle Whittingham said Tuesday during Big 12 football media days. “We feel we’re definitely on an even playing field now and we have a chance to compete for a title right away. We’ve got a terrific roster, a great quarterback, and all the pieces are in place.”

Whittingham is going into his 20th season with the Utes, having also coached them in the Western Athletic and Mountain West before they became Pac-12 members in 2011.

Utah is getting a big boost for its Big 12 debut with the return of 6-foot-2 senior quarterback Cameron Rising after he missed last season with a knee injury.

“I’m excited to watch him play again,” Whittingham said. “I mean, he’s a terrific leader, terrific player, really the alpha dog of our football team. He’s got the respect of everybody on the team. He’s got that it factor at quarterback where he makes everybody around him better. And when he’s in at quarterback he just exudes confidence and players believe in him. They believe in him 100%.”

Rising threw for 3,034 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2022, when he led the Utes to a win over USC and Caleb Williams in the Pac-12 title game.