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Utes potential top-25 in 2012

Though the '11 season is only days old, that hasn't stopped many sports pundits from predicting and projecting what will happen later this year.

For Utah, the consensus seems to be that they'll challenge USC for the Pac-12 South title.

Of course, challenge could be liberally used here and it's obvious the Trojans will enter next season as the clear favorites to win the division.

Still, even with an 8-5 season and some head-scratching defeats (the way Cal happened and Colorado), the preseason buzz is already ratcheting up.

Ted Miller, who runs the Pac-12 blog for ESPN, had this to say about Utah (ranking them 3rd overall in his '12 conference power rankings):

3. Utah: The Utes welcome back 18 starters, though replacing both offensive tackles will be a huge task this spring. The defense has a chance to be beastly. The key? Utah proved it can win eight games with poor-to-middling quarterback play. But does a healthy Jordan Wynn -- back to late 2009, early 2010 form -- mean 10 wins?

Not bad.

Utah also came in at 24th in Mike Huguenin's early top 25 and 21st in Brett McMurphy's way early preseason rankings.

Athlon lists the Utes as 'others to watch'.

So, there certainly is evidence to suggest expectations will be a bit hire for Utah in 2012 than they were in 2011.

But is it reasonable?

Not entirely.

The Utes still have a quarterback problem, at least until Jordan Wynn proves he can make it through a season healthy. That right there is enough to dampen expectations.

Even so, I think we might have seen the Utes' Pac-12 floor (6 or 7 regular season wins). Even with a struggling quarterback and a one-dimensional offense, Utah nearly won the Pac-12 South and still managed eight wins.

If Wynn can remain healthy, especially with all the talent returning on the offensive side of the ball, the Utes could certainly make some noise.

Now here's to it actually happening.