Joel Klatt is buying up all the stock he can in Utah as college football shifts into offseason mode and winter workouts loom.

On his podcast this week, Klatt broke down his own personal “way too early” top 10 teams for the 2024 season. Despite a relatively down year in 2023 — Utah only managed eight wins after three consecutive full seasons with at least 10 — Klatt believes the Utes are one of the best teams in the country entering next season. He has Utah at No. 8, ahead of Penn State and Notre Dame.

“I believe I’m selling this team short. I really do,” Klatt said. “That’s right. They’re back.”

Utah moves into its new home in the Big 12 after suffering through a swan song in the Pac-12 that was hijacked by injury. Anyone of significance was either hampered by or shut down because of injuries last season. Neither Cameron Rising nor Brant Kuithe played a snap for the Utes. Key pieces of the defense — edge Logan Fano, linebacker Lander Barton — went down mid-year. The skill positions were beset with inconsistencies and varying availability and the offense suffered as a result.

Utah ended the season 103rd nationally in offensive efficiency after averaging just 5.1 yards per play — its worst offensive showing since 2012.

But, so long as the injury bug doesn’t linger into the new year, sunnier days are in the offing. Rising and Kuithe are back. Utah has added significant pass-catchers to the cupboard from the transfer portal. The defense remains well-stocked. And the coordinators are both back for another year.

“The defense you know is going to be good. That’s a plug-and-play defense. It’s always tough. They’re always good at the line of scrimmage,” Klatt said. “This team is going to be excellent.”

Klatt believes Utah should be a preseason favorite to win the Big 12. He also believes the Utes have a “legit” path to a top-four seed in the expanded College Football Playoff next year.

The conference schedule next season features four home games and five road games. Utah will have to play at Arizona State and Colorado — two places the Utes are familiar with and two teams who struggled mightily in 2023. They’ll face Oklahoma State on the road as well.

Arizona will have to travel to Rice-Eccles Stadium. As will BYU, TCU, and Iowa State.

The thing that will help? Rising’s experience. He’s entering his seventh season of college football, and the last few seasons around the sport have shown just how much value there is for a team when an experienced quarterback who has seen everything there is to see is at the controls. A couple of super-senior guys just led teams to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

So long as Rising is fully recovered from the knee injury that cost him the entire 2023 campaign, he could step back in as one of the top players at the position in the sport.

“I look at this as easily one of the best teams in the country,” Klatt said.