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Big 12 Conference Championship Or Bust For Utah Football In 2024

Feb 2, 2024, 11:10 AM | Updated: 11:15 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah football is set to join the Big 12 Conference in 2024 and there is already at least one media member who thinks the Utes are a lock to be the best team.

Obviously, we are still very early in the process of preparing for the impending college football season and things can rapidly change, but as of February 1, 2024, Pete Fiutak of College Football News believes Utah football will be the team in the Big 12.

Fiutak joined JJ and Alex to discuss what it is about the Utes that projects so well early in the 2024 season.

 

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Utah Football Is The Star Of The Show In New Big 12

Fiutak’s first point in breaking down the new Big 12 is that there is a bit of an open audition that will happen in 2024 for the “headliner” spot with Texas and Oklahoma moving on to the SEC.

Obviously, Colorado with coach Prime gets a lot of eyeballs, but the product on the field has to infinitely improve. Arizona is in the process of growing into a team that could fill that need.

When it comes to the “Jimmies and Joes” and the “Xs and Os” along with recent, consistent success, Utah football is the one that Fiutak points to as being the most likely to slide into that role. It will, however, take the Utes taking full advantage of that opportunity and not letting it slip away.

“When you look at the Big 12- yeah, it’s going to be fun when coach Prime comes to town,” Fiutak said. “It’s one of those things where- do you really want to be- to have the biggest house on the block? If you’re a team like Utah? Yeah, of course you’d like it because you want to get into the College Football Playoff. Utah is the star of the show right now if they get everyone back. Arizona is in a transition area- period that should be pretty good. You just don’t have that one national team outside of maybe Colorado because of Prime that says- the world is going to care about the Big 12 because of these teams.”

 

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What The Utes’ Way-Too-Early Record Looks Like

Fiutak was also pretty confident the Utes will likely walk away at the very least with a 10-2 record.

“You never know, but assuming everyone stays healthy- this is more of a, they’ll probably lose a game,” Fiutak said. “They are going to be favored in every game on their slate. It will kind of be a shocker if they are not.”

Fiutak went on to examine some of the potential pitfalls Utah could face in the Big 12 as they pursue the conference championship game and College Football Playoff berth.

“Going to Oklahoma State is dangerous- that is going to be one of those big games,” Fiutak said. “I think Arizona State is going to be a lot better, but that is coming off a week off. The BYU game helps because that is coming off a week off. Going to Colorado- I do think they will fix the glitch.”

“Then, because I’m getting a little punchy here, and going with the idea of it’s the end of the year and we’re changing how we are going to think about this thing,” Fiutak continued. “Remember- if you win your Power Four conference championship, you are in the College Football Playoff and you are most likely going to get a BYE in the first round. I’m not saying Utah is going to hold back or do load management, but if they go 10-1 like I think they are going to do- they are going to have stuff wrapped up. All the sudden- all that matters from that point on is the Big 12 Championship Game against whoever they have to play against assuming it’s all worked out as perfect. Then they have to go to UCF which is vastly improved. Going to Orlando, last game of the year, probably a game UCF is going to have to win.”

Big 12 Conference Championship Or Bust For Utah

Fiutak wrapped up his interview by once again pointing out the huge opportunity in front of the Utes to set the tone and take one of the vacated “headline” spots in the Big 12.

“It’s got to be conference championship or bust if you are Utah,” Fiutak said. “They are just a better team that everyone else in the conference. You go to an easier conference- Utah has got to be in the Big 12 Conference Championship and then between Arizona, Kansas, and Oklahoma State- those are probably the three next best teams with Kansas State right around there.”

“Arizona, we don’t know with a coaching change- they do have a lot of guys coming back but they also don’t have the same group as last year,” Fiutak continued. “They’ve got enough talent to be in the mix and be fine. Oklahoma State is really good. That offensive line is probably going to be the best in the conference besides Utah’s with Ollie Gordon running it. Then, Kansas is the funky one because they don’t actually have any real home games because they are renovating their stadium. They will be playing in Kansas City, and I think they have a game in St. Louis. It’s just going to be kind of an odd year for Kansas.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Big 12 Conference Championship Or Bust For Utah Football In 2024