Utah Football: How Utah Can Become a National Powerhouse

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The University of Utah Football Team warms up prior to the start of the game in the Pac-12 Championship Game vs. University of Oregon at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.(Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Carlos Padilla, Sports Writer

 

While the 2020 football season is still a big question mark due to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Utah football team must continue to expand their program and look towards the long-term future. As a program ever on the rise, there are some crucial boxes the Utes must check in the next decade to solidify their dominance on the NCAA national stage. 

First and foremost, Utah must make it to the Rose Bowl. While being back to back Pac-12 South champions is nothing to sneer at, the Utes have failed to cross the threshold and hoist the Pac-12 trophy on both occasions. Most recently, Utah was embarrassed by Justin Herbert and the Oregon Ducks in the 2019 Pac-12 championship game.

While Utah has become the dominant power in the south, it often falls short against the considerably more talented northern opponents. The program faced much criticism after falling to Oregon, being labeled as overrated and as taking advantage of their weak division and a weakened Pac-12 Conference in general. Should the Utes desire more respect on a national scale, they must win it all. 

While the Pac-12 may be weaker than usual according to some, being in a Power Five conference has gained the Utes more clout. With the recent success and the Pac-12 behind them, the Utes scheduled the a pair of games with the Florida Gators starting in the 2022 season. The scheduling of an elite program is precisely what Utah must do to succeed and grow. Being seen playing in Gainsville is essential, but should the Utes manage to leave with a victory, the program would be immensely boosted.

The Utes would show that they are capable of competing with revered programs and not being a wasted slot on elite programs’ schedules. Competing or winning against the Gators would also open doors for the Utes to schedule other big-name teams. This nationwide exposure would work wonders for recruiting, experience, and improvement. 

Finally, Utah must make an appearance and compete in the college playoffs. While Utah flirted with being a playoff team this past season, reaching as high as No. 5 on the national polls, they fell short and were then brutalized by Oregon, then later by Texas in the Alamo Bowl. This meltdown prompted many to say Utah is not playoff material and did have adverse effects on the Utes’ future in the eyes of the polls. 

However, should Utah put together an undefeated season, win the Pac-12 and find their way into the playoffs, the program’s image would be significantly improved. While as improbable as it may seem to best any of the SEC juggernauts in the playoffs, the Utes only need to put forth a valiant effort and keep the game close to reaping the rewards of national exposure. Should Utah somehow steal a win or go the distance, the sky is the limit for the program. 

While not a perfect roadmap to success, should the Utes check off the majority of all of these milestones within the next decade of football, Utah would become a premier powerhouse in the West and a nationally respected contender. 

 

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@CPadilla67