Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham accepted the endorsement of his team as a College Football Playoff finalist, after ESPN analyst Lee Corso showed his projected bracket Saturday on the first “GameDay” program of the 2019 season, staged in Orlando, Fla.
Corso forecasted Utah as the No. 3 seed, upsetting No. 2 Clemson and then facing No. 1 Alabama in the championship game, Jan. 13 in New Orleans. That would be a rematch in the Superdome, the site of Utah’s 31-17 victory in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
In that scenario, a Utah-Clemson matchup likely would come in the Fiesta Bowl in suburban Phoenix, with Alabama meeting Ohio State closer to home in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
Informed of the pick after Saturday's practice, Whittingham said, “Well, good for Lee. It seems like most of the time when I'm watching that and he's got to choose us or the opponent, he doesn't choose us very often. Maybe he's had a change of heart. Thanks, Lee.”
Corso is the first national observer to place Utah in this season’s title game, although a few others have picked them as a CFP contestant.
The Westgate Sports Book in Las Vegas recently listed Utah with 12/1 odds of making the CFP semifinals, behind eight other teams. Clemson (1/5) and Alabama (1/3) were overwhelming choices as Playoff qualifiers, followed by Georgia (6/5) and Oklahoma (2/1).
Utah is ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25.