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Utah tabbed to win Big-12 by conference media writers: BYU voted 13th

Also known as “The Holy War” the match up between Utah and BYU will take on added meaning as they both now play in the Big-12. (Photo by Steve C. Wilson via utahutes.com)

 

As if the rivalry between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University needed any more fuel, the media voting for the predicted order of finish in the Big-12 had one of them at the top and the other near the bottom. The voting numbers came out last week but conversations between the two fanbases have gone up a notch as they share a league for the first time they both left the Mountain West in 2011. The Utes went to the Pac-10 which became the Pac-12 with them and Colorado both joining. The Cougars went the Independent route for a decade.

The Cougars finally saw their work and patience pay off in the form of an invitation to the Big-12 which they joined last season. Utah was part of the process as the Pac-12 dissolved leaving just Washington State and Oregon State to fend for themselves while U of U, Arizona, Arizona State and the Buffalos went to the Big-12. UCLA and USC tipped the first major domino by announcing they were joining the Big-10 in 2022. Cal and Stanford joined the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). WSU and OSU have entered into a scheduling agreement with the Mountain West for football games for the 2024 and 2025 seasons but their affiliation beyond that is uncertain.

The Utes return perhaps the premier signal-caller in their new conference in Cam Rising who is returning for a seventh year of eligibility. Believe it or not, Rising does have the option for an astounding eighth year of eligibility due to various factors but commented on that question at the Big-12 Media Days from Action Network’s Brett McMurphy this week by saying,  “That’s not the plan,” referring to an eighth season. “Seven years is more than enough.”

Rising has had his share of injuries but has also shown his toughness for the Utes by taking huge hits in huge games. During his time in Salt Lake City he has been named Pac-12 All-Conference first-team in 2021 and honorable mention in 2022. He was the MVP of the Pac-12 title game in 2022. He has 15 career games with 200+ passing yards, including two 300-yard games and one 400-yard-game. He’s played in 27 games with 25 starts.

Meanwhile, the quarterback position is one of question for BYU who is used to producing elite passers. This year the early thoughts are that the job will go to Jake Retzlaff or to Baylor transfer Gerry Bohanon. Another name to consider? McCae Hillstead who left Utah State in April and chose to move to Provo. The sophomore threw for 1,068 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions for the Aggies last season. He had a huge prep career at Skyridge High in Lehi, Utah with nearly 7,000 yards and 73 touchdowns. He does have a connection to Star Valley as the grandson of Randy and Lana (Pendleton) Hillstead.

The question of who will be under center will likely be the primary query for the Cougars until someone nails down the job and has success. It is also one of the likely reasons BYU was tabbed to finish 13th out of the 16 teams now in the league. The two teams clash on November 9, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

In related games of note for SVI Media readers, Utah will also play in Logan against Utah State on September 14. BYU will play in Laramie against the Cowboy on the same date. That game will be carried on The Spur as part of the Cowboy Sports Network.

Last year the Utes went (8-5) which included a 14-7 loss to Northwestern in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Cougars went (5-7) and were not bowl-eligible.

Wyoming games are carried in Western Wyoming by The Spur!

The Big-12 Media voting went as follows:

The Utes claimed 20 first-place votes and totaled 906 points, edging out Kansas State in second with 19 first-place ballots and 889 points. Oklahoma State placed third with 14 first-place votes and 829 points after playing in the 2023 Dr Pepper Big 12 Football Championship. Kansas came in fourth with five first-place nods and 772 points while Arizona notched fifth with three first-place votes and 762 points.

The remaining preseason rankings include 6. Iowa State (661 points), 7. West Virginia (581 points), 8. UCF (551 points), 9. Texas Tech (532 points), 10. TCU (436 points), 11. Colorado (400 points), 12. Baylor (268 points), 13. BYU (215 points), 14. Cincinnati (196 points), 15. Houston (157 points) and 16. Arizona State (141 points).

Utah Football 2024
BYU Football 2024 per KSLSports.com.
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