Utah football ranked 20th in preseason Amway Coaches Poll

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham watches the action between the Utah Utes and the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. The Utes were ranked No. 20 in the first coaches' poll of the 2020 season.

If college football is played this fall, the University of Utah will begin the season ranked in at least one poll.

The Utes, 11-3 with a second straight Pac-12 South title last season, checked in at No. 20 on Thursday morning when USA Today released the Amway Coaches Poll. Utah was one of three Pac-12 teams ranked, following No. 9 Oregon and No. 17 USC.

The fact Utah is ranked to start the season indicates a healthy amount of national respect for head coach Kyle Whittingham’s program, given what he and his coaching staff have lost in terms of personnel.

Utah is replacing nine starters on defense, including its entire secondary, while there are question marks at quarterback and running back after Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss moved on to the NFL. Moss’ exit especially hurts given he left Salt Lake City as the program’s all-time leading rusher.

In 2019, the Utes finished the regular season 11-1 to rise to No. 5 in the Coaches and Associated Press Polls, plus the College Football rankings. They ultimately finished the season ranked 16th in the Coaches and AP Polls after losses to Oregon and Texas in the Pac-12 championship game and Alamo Bowl, respectively.

The AP Poll is scheduled to be released later this month.

The Pac-12 on Friday released a 10-game, conference-only football schedule that has Utah opening the season Sept. 26 at Washington State.