ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) ranks the Utah Utes No. 15 in the country heading into the 2023 season.

The Utes are the third-ranked team in the Pac-12, according to FPI, sitting behind USC and Oregon. The predictive model gives Utah a 17.4% chance to win the Pac-12 and a 6.6% chance to make the College Football Playoff.

Of course, another conference title would give the Utes an unprecedented three-peat. It would be a remarkable way to close the chapter on the program’s time in the Pac-12 conference, but it’s far from easy. The league is loaded at the top entering the 2023 season.

Oregon State got better. Utah plays the Beavs in Corvallis on Sept. 29.

USC appears to have gotten better. Utah plays the Trojans in Los Angeles on Oct. 21.

There are games against Oregon and Washington, too.

The variable that’s in flux right now is the health of Utah’s offensive engine. Cameron Rising is still in limbo for the season opener. Utah’s star quarterback is coming off an ACL injury and was a limited participant throughout fall camp. It also remains to be seen how long it takes tight end Brant Kuithe to return to form after his own injury.

Utah needs a fast start before the meat-grinder that is the middle chunk of its schedule. Will it get one? Here’s how FPI sees every game going:

  • Aug. 31 vs. Florida — 67.9% chance of winning
  • Sept. 9 at Baylor — 53.8%
  • Sept. 16 vs. Weber State — 96.5%
  • Sept. 23 vs. UCLA — 77.5%
  • Sept. 29 at Oregon State — 53.0%
  • Oct. 14 vs. Cal — 84.7%
  • Oct. 21 at USC — 31.6%
  • Oct. 28 vs. Oregon — 59.2%
  • Nov. 4 vs. Arizona State — 88.6%
  • Nov. 11 at Washington — 51.8%
  • Nov. 18 at Arizona — 76.6%
  • Nov. 25 vs. Colorado — 94.1%

According to FPI, the Utes should be favored in all but one of their games this season. But the model has them in virtual toss-up games three other times. FPI has the record pegged at 8-4.