Jensen: Utah Must Win Big 12 For 2024 To Be Considered Successful

Jun 13, 2024, 10:57 AM

Follow @kslsports...

SALT LAKE CITY –  The hype surrounding the University of Utah football team as it enters the Big 12 has been swelling for months.

Most people are on the side of forgiving last season’s 8-5 record, which was plagued by injuries. With none more devastating to the Utes than quarterback Cam Rising, but another huge absence was not having tight end Brant Kuithe.

Both players being back will be huge for the Utes this upcoming season.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by KSL Sports (@kslsports)

In three of the past four years – excluding the COVID-19 season – Utah football won double-digit games, two Pac-12 titles, and appeared in three championship games. With Rising back under center and presumably fully healthy now that he will be 19 months removed from the torn ACL he suffered during the 2023 Rose Bowl loss to Penn State, expectations are high for the Utes this year.

This good news for Utah heading into the 2024 season is that multiple national college football pundits are predicting the Utes to be the team to beat in the Big 12. With the newly expanded 12-team college football being implemented this year, being Big 12 champs would give Utah its first-ever appearance in the College Football Playoff.

National media members aren’t the only ones hyping up the Utes. KSL Sports Zone’s Jeremiah Jensen of JJ & Alex believes for Utah to have a successful season it means winning the Big 12, and making the College Football Playoff. This is assuming Rising is back to his old self.

Yet, he is realistic that if Rising is not back to his prior form, the season may not go as planned.

“This is not fair, but Utah is Big 12 championship or bust with this group,” Jensen said. “You’ve seen the difference in Utah with Cam Rising and the difference without. One wins Pac-12 championships and goes to Rose Bowls, and the other one can’t beat Northwestern in a bowl game.”

What Do Advanced Stats Say About Utah?

While the humans think Utah football will make noise in the Big 12, the computer rankings are not as high on the Utes, specifically ESPN’s Football Power Index.

ESPN’s FPI has Utah 27th overall and fifth in the Big 12 with a projected record of 7.8 wins to 4.4 losses. That number seems a bit low when considering what Utah is returning. The pundits at ESPN also feel Utah should be ranked higher overall.

However, with how tight the Big 12 is expected to be – there are seven teams in the FPI’s top 30 – could the Utes finish worse than fifth?

Anything is possible and an outcome that has Utah finishing lower than fifth is not out of the possibility.

“Could Utah finish fifth in the Big 12 this year? Absolutely,” Jensen said. “Kansas, Kansas State, Arizona and Oklahoma State are all really good football teams. They play two of those teams.”

Alex Kirry is the other have of JJ & Alex and isn’t sure what to make about the Utes not being considered a favorite according to the FPI.

Especially when nearly all of the national college football media have Utah squarely in the running for the Big 12 title.

“Which one is it? I don’t know which one to believe, I think Utah is better than five,” Kirry said.

The bar has been set for Utah football with the return of Rising and moving to a new conference that is considered a little a step down in competition.

The computers feel the Utes are an above average team in the Big 12 but the humans have high hopes for Utah with sights set on a Big 12 title and its first-ever berth to the College Football Playoff.

Tune into JJ & Alex every Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

KSL 5 TV Live

KSLSports Feed

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Utah Jazz Officially Waive Guard Russell Westbrook

The Utah Jazz officially waived Russell Westbrook on Saturday, clearing the way for the veteran guard to join his next team via free agency.

48 minutes ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Ashleigh Johnson Credits Siblings’ Challenges For Shaping Her Olympic Journey

U.S. water polo goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson grew up with four siblings who constantly challenged her and pushed her to be her best.

1 hour ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Sunny Choi Ready To Take On Paris With Team USA, Elevate Sport Of Breaking

Sunny Choi has always been a big dreamer and it has led her to Paris with a chance to earn an Olympic medal with Team USA.

2 hours ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Mike Trout To Carry Out Rehab Assignment With Salt Lake Bees

Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout is returning from injury and one of the next steps is to get back up to speed with the Salt Lake Bees.

4 hours ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Tony Finau Misses Cut After Dreadful Second Round At British Open

Utah native and PGA Tour golfer Tony Finau fell apart in the second round of the British Open which led to him missing the cut.

1 day ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Gymnast Asher Hong Looks To Bring Team USA To Podium In Paris

U.S. gymnast Asher Hong looks to get Team USA back on the podium in his Olympic debut at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Jensen: Utah Must Win Big 12 For 2024 To Be Considered Successful