Utah Football Eyes Winning Third-Straight Pac-12 Championship
Mar 26, 2023, 1:18 PM
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah football started up spring football as the defending back-to-back Pac-12 champions. Despite having had its best stretch run ever with four Pac-12 title appearances in five years, the team wants more.
The Utes want to be the first team since the Oregon Ducks (2009-11) to win the league three years in a row. If Utah achieves the feat, they’d be the first to do so since the conference added a championship game. The last time that the Utah football team won three conference titles was from 1951-53 when the Utes played in the Skyline Conference.
“Just getting them back on the field, and they’re back-to-back Pac-12 champs going for a three-peat, and that’s a big challenge,” Whittingham said.” So to get back out here today and see the enthusiasm and the excitement was what it’s all about.
“It’s been mentioned since January. When we first came back from the break, and nobody’s done that since. The Pac-12 has been around for the last 15 years or whatever it’s been, and that’s one of our objectives this next season.”
Whittingham sounded like he has the fire to want to do something that hasn’t been done in over a decade.
Conference titles should be the goal for Utah, which has been one of the most consistent teams in the country. Very few teams match Utah’s success over the past five years.
College Football Playoff Another Goal?
Utah has been considered a fringe playoff team over the past few years and in 2019 the Utes were one win away from achieving that goal. That year they fell to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game and settled for an Alamo Bowl berth.
The next step after going to back-to-back Rose Bowls is to be a little better and make the four-team playoff as it enters its final iteration before expanding to a dozen teams.
Utah’s quarterback turned running back, JaQuinden Jackson, said the team has talked about a goal to make it to the College Football Playoff.
“Three-peat, we are trying to get that, plus more,” Jackson said. ” We [are] looking at the Pac-12 championship but we are also looking at the College Football Playoff. That is another motivation for us to keep doing what we have been doing.”
Getting to the four-team playoff is not easy. Only two teams from the Pac-12 have ever made it and 14 teams have been selected to play for an FBS national title.
For Jackson and his teammates to want more should now be the norm at Utah with its recent success of being one of the bests teams in the Pac-12. The next step is punching a ticket to the exclusive club of making the four-team playoff.
A lot will depend on the health of quarterback Cam Rising. He suffered a knee injury in the Rose Bowl and is out for spring football. There is no word of a timetable for his return and his status to be ready for the start of the season when Utah hosts Florida on Aug. 31 is to be determined.
This spring is going to be used to build quarterback depth but if the Utes are going to make a run at the playoff they must have Rising in the mix to get past Florida and Baylor to start the season.
The future 12-team field will open up more chances to make the playoff by virtue of winning its conference, but making it in the four-team field will be much sweeter and feel like a bigger accomplishment for the Utes.