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Armand Shyne #6 of the Utah Utes celebrates his winning touchdown in the second half of a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the Utah Utes came from behind to beat the Brigham Young Cougars 35-27 on November 24, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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Utes Ranked At No. 18 In ESPN Preseason Poll

Armand Shyne #6 of the Utah Utes celebrates his winning touchdown in the second half of a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the Utah Utes came from behind to beat the Brigham Young Cougars 35-27 on November 24, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Following a 9-5 season that included the program’s first appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the Utah Utes are getting some national respect ahead of the 2019 season.

ESPN released its updated “way-too-early top 25 rankings” and placed the Utes at 18th in the nation.

The national outlet praised Utah for its group of returning starters and core players while stating that they could be considered favorites for the conference title.

Utah is returning 15 starters on both offense and defense.

The Utes were nestled right in between two of its opponents from last season. Washington, who beat Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game, was ranked No. 17 in the poll. Northwestern, who defeated the Utes in the Holiday Bowl, was ranked No. 19.

The full poll is available here.