The long-awaited preseason AFCA Coaches Poll was released on Monday, and Utah checked in with its highest preseason ranking in program history.

Utah opens the season ranked No. 8 in the Coaches Poll.

The Utes are coming off a 10-4 season that saw the program capture its first Pac-12 title in program history and book a spot in the Rose Bowl, a game in which it nearly toppled Ohio State. The Utes began the 2021 season unranked in the Coaches Poll. They would go on to finish 12th, the highest finish for the team in the poll since 2004.

Previously, Utah had never been ranked higher than 14th nationally in either the preseason Associated Press media poll or the AFCA Coaches Poll. That came in 2019, when the Utes ran through the regular season 11-1 and peaked at No. 5 in the polls. That team looked for a moment like it could contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff, but a Pac-12 title game loss at the hands of Oregon snuffed that hope out.

This year’s team has similar aspirations.

Utah is looking to be the Pac-12’s first CFP participant since Washington made it in 2016. Quarterback Cameron Rising and tailback Tavion Thomas are hoping to lead the attack for the offense while Clark Phillips III and Cole Bishop look to spearhead what should be a stingy defensive secondary.

The season opens in The Swamp on Sept. 3 against Florida. The Gators received 17 votes in the Coaches Poll but were not ranked.

Other Pac-12 schools in the poll included Oregon at No. 12 and USC at No. 15. UCLA received 10 votes while Oregon State received two.

The full top 25 can be found here.