Overlook Utah next season at your own peril. Those solely concerned with USC in the Pac-12 might be surprised when fall roles around and the Utes look like a legitimate College Football Playoff threat out of the gates.

Put Mike Farrell—the longtime former Rivals commentator dubbed “The Godfather of Recruiting”—among the chorus of folks cautioning to take Utah seriously. He went so far recently as to suggest Utah is a team the rest of college football should be scared sh… well, scared of.

Yes, USC is also on his list, but likely for different reasons. The Trojans’ “scariness” is rooted in potential. Utah’s is rooted in production.

The Utes blitzed the rest of the Pac-12 last season once Cameron Rising was inserted at quarterback. A punishing ground game that featured a three-headed running back unit that put up over 2,000 yards and nearly 30 scores was paired with Utah’s usual brand of salty, havoc-creating defense.

Rising came in and stirred the drink, giving the Utes a dual-threat quarterback who could hit the proverbial home run but wouldn’t force the issue to the point of making critical errors.

And he’s back in 2022, along with Tavion Thomas and Micah Bernard and Dalton Kincaid and Brant Kuithe on offense and Clark Phillips III and Cole Bishop and Junior Tafuna and Van Fillinger on defense. Utah also added to its talent this offseason, with blue-chip freshman linebacker Lander Barton and Florida transfer linebacker Mohamoud Diabate.

Utah begins its season on the road against the Florida Gators on Sept. 3. Surely a team under a new head coach in its season-opener at home against a Power Five peer will give its opponent its full attention.

If Utah flexes its muscles in Gainesville, though, watch out. Things could get scary.