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Utah is the best Big 12 team in Phil Steele's 2024 Preseason Top 40

Utah cracked the top ten of Phil Steele's preseason Top 40 rankings this week. Kyle Whittingham's team was the top-ranked Big 12 team and a favorite to win the conference, according to the longtime college football analyst.

Steele has the Utes ranked No. 8 in the nation to start the season. There are no real surprises with Georgia coming in first, with Ohio State at No. 2 and Oregon rounding out the top three spots. Texas was fourth, followed by Penn State rounding out the top five spots. If this is any indication of what to expect in the College Football Playoff, the Utes should be in the running by the end of the year.

“Utah is moving to the Big 12 after a down year in its final Pac-12 season. But many have the Utes as favorites to win their new conference in their very first season in the league,” Steele wrote. He went on to explain why the Utes will be successful next year. “Quarterback Cameron Rising returns after missing the entire 2023 season due to an injury that ended the 2022 season. Utah's strong culture, forged by Kyle Whittingham, and excellent home-field advantage definitely work in their favor in a new conference.”

Utah was one of three Big 12 teams in the rankings. Oklahoma State was ranked 15th by Steele. The Cowboys are traditionally a contender in the conference and should be one of the top teams without Texas or Oklahoma. Kansas State finished eight spots behind OSU at 23rd. Hopefully that reflects where AP voters will place the Utes early in the season.

Whittingham's team will open the season on August 30 against Southern Utah. They are the only Big 12 team with ten conference opponents on the 2024 schedule.

Anna Harden

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