As the sunset on the 2021 Utah football season, Yogi Roth (PAC 12 Network Analyst) commented about Utah setting a new standard for their program. In this light, I felt it was important to reflect on every year since Utah joined the PAC 12 in 2011. Below is a list of every year along with an overall and conference record and the result of a bowl game if it occurred for that year.
2011: Overall Record: 8-5 Conference Record: 4-5
Bowl Game: Sun Bowl 30-27 OT Win vs. Georgia Tech
2012: Overall Record: 5-7 Conference Record: 3-6
Bowl Game: Ineligible
2013: Overall Record: 5-7 Conference Record: 2-7
Bowl Game: Ineligible
As you can see, the first three years were undoubtedly a little rocky. We were certainly fortunate our first season to be in the running for the PAC 12 South title due to USC’s NCAA sanctions but lost in the final game to Colorado in a major upset which ultimately cost Utah the South Division crown. After a bowl win, we suffered from two straight losing seasons but in 2013 pulled off a massive upset of Stanford, which was our first big wave since joining the conference.
2014: Overall Record: 9-4 Conference Record: 5-4
Bowl Game: Vegas Bowl 45-10 Win vs. Colorado State
2015: Overall Record: 10-3 Conference Record: 6-3
Bowl Game: Vegas Bowl 35-28 Win vs. BYU
2016: Overall Record: 9-4 Conference Record: 5-4
Bowl Game: Foster Farms Bowl 26-24 Win vs. Indiana
The next three seasons were largely successful. In 2015 Utah rose to #3 in the rankings and even hosted College Gameday before a big home game against Cal. We also pulled off the massive 62-20 upset at Oregon, yet another statement win for the program. In 2016 despite a great start, we finished with a mediocre conference record and a win in the Foster Farms Bowl.
2017: Overall Record: 7-6 Conference Record: 3-6
Bowl Game: Dallas Bowl 30-14 Win vs. West Virginia
2018: Overall Record: 9-5 Conference Record: 6-4
Bowl Game: Holiday Bowl 31-10 Loss vs. Northwestern
2019: Overall Record: 11-3 Conference Record: 8-2
Bowl Game: Alamo Bowl 38-10 Loss vs. Texas
In 2017 The Utes managed to finish with an above .500 record to earn and win a trip to the Dallas Bowl despite a rough record in conference play. In 2018 the Utes made history by winning the PAC 12 South division but came up short in the championship game to Washington. In 2019 the Utes yet again won the PAC 12 South division and appeared poised to not only win the PAC 12 championship but earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. Sadly, it was not to be as Oregon, led by Justin Herbert, beat Utah 37-15. This season and the way it ended was certainly the driving force for Utah winning the PAC 12 Championship in 2021
2020: Overall Record: 3-2 Conference Record: 3-2
Bowl Game: Skipped due to COVID
2021: Overall Record: 10-4 Conference Record: 9-1
Bowl Game: Rose Bowl 48-45 Loss vs. Ohio State
It’s clear as we assess our performance after 10 years in the PAC 12 that Utah has indeed set a new standard for themselves and the program. Earning a PAC 12 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl was a critical step. No one can underscore the performance of having a national audience and that kind of exposure for high-profile recruits. You have to feel that the next step for this program is to win the Rose Bowl, then a trip to the College Football Playoff before finally becoming National Champions. The nation now understands the road to the PAC 12 championship runs directly through Salt Lake City.
We’d love to hear your comments. What are your expectations for Utah moving forward?