The Utah Utes ended the 2011 season with an 8-5 record. They took the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to overtime in the Sun Bowl and pulled off the upset with a John White IV touchdown to cap off their first season in the Pac-12.
The victory, by the way, gave the Pac-12 one of its two bowl wins.
And they did all of this without their starting quarterback, Jordan Wynn.
Without Wynn, Utah was relegated to a one-dimensional run offense that struggled to put points on the board. Running back John White IV was good—good enough to set a Utah record in rushing yards for a season at 1,563—but when he was the only aspect of the offense, even he could get bogged down.
If Utah had had Jordan Wynn for the full season, would Utah have lost to ASU, Cal, Washington and, most embarrassingly, Colorado? I don't think so.
Utah handled the rigors of a Pac-12 schedule well. Coach Kyle Whittingham is a master of preparation and the offensive line returns nine starters, including both quarterbacks, while the defensive line returns seven starters on what was a top-20 defense this season.
A preseason top-25 ranking seems inevitable, as Utah is the only team in the Pac-12 South that can challenge USC for the division title. Several analysts have already posted their early predictions. CBS Sports has Utah ranked 21st and Rivals.com has Utah ranked 24th.
But the preseason is still some eight months away and nothing is set in stone. Utah has a couple very big questions.
First, can it replace both offensive tackles? And second, even if Jordan Wynn does return, can he stay healthy?
Whatever the answers to those questions, I'm looking forward to Utah creating some Pac-12 ripples in 2012.