Gordon Monson: Remember when the imagination couldn’t be stretched far enough to see Utah in the Rose Bowl? Well, it’s elastic now.

After a blowout victory over Stanford, the Utes are once again marching toward a Pac-12 South title — and maybe more

(D. Ross Cameron | AP) Utah quarterback Cameron Rising hands off to running back TJ Pledger (5) during the second quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Stanford, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Stanford, Calif. Pledger ran 96 yards for a touchdown.

Remember when Utah’s offensive line couldn’t create space, couldn’t manhandle defenses, couldn’t get physical enough, couldn’t dominate the LOS?

Remember when Utah didn’t have what it almost always has — a running back who could be depended on to haul the rock, to explode for big chunks and thump for tough, small ones, sustaining drives and scoring touchdowns?

Remember when Tavion Thomas couldn’t be trusted to carry the ball because he treated it like it was a cache of steaming nitroglycerine in the hot afternoon sun?

Remember when TJ Pledger was better known for transferring from Oklahoma than for anything he’d done with the Utes?

Remember when nobody had a clue who Micah Bernard was?

Remember when Utah’s run defense could do everything necessary on the field — except stop the run?

Remember when Utah’s pass defense was talented but suspect?

Remember when Utah’s defense forgot how to make big plays?

Remember when folks wondered whatever happened to Brant Kuithe, why he wasn’t an All-Pac-12 tight end anymore?

Remember when people wondered which Ute wide-outs could get open and actually catch the ball?

Remember when it looked as though an exorcism might be necessary on the sideline, what with Kyle Whittingham’s head spinning off his shoulders during games, his eyes bulging, his nose snorting, his gaping mouth on the verge of sending bits of projectile vomit in all directions?

Remember when the game seemed to have passed Whittingham by, when some thought the longtime Utah coach wasn’t as into football as he once was, when he had the long hair, the gruff look, the shaggy face, the sagging body language?

Remember when people were wondering who would succeed Whittingham as Utah’s coach?

Remember when Andy Ludwig had forgotten how to call a game, how to threaten defenses, how to fashion an attack that would put up the needed pile of points to threaten the best teams in the Pac-12?

Remember when it was more likely that the Utes would trip over themselves, stumbling and bumbling and fumbling around, than it was that they would put 38 points on a Pac-12 opponent in a single half?

Remember when Utah was a place where quarterbacks went to watch their careers blow apart, where big recruits would transfer out and big newcomers would transfer in and then wish they hadn’t?

Remember when Charlie Brewer was Utah’s starting quarterback?

Remember when Cam Rising was token competition for more promising quarterbacks who were expected to flourish in Utah’s offense once they were properly acclimated?

Remember, again, when Charlie Brewer was Utah’s starting quarterback?

Remember when the Utes couldn’t beat BYU?

Remember when the Utes couldn’t beat San Diego State?

Remember when the only non-league opponent the Utes could beat was Weber State?

Remember when people actually thought Arizona State and USC were better than Utah?

Remember when it looked as though the Utes couldn’t win the Pac-12 South?

Remember when hopes for the Utes to make the Pac-12 championship game were blowing in the wind, then completely evaporating?

Remember when the Utes weren’t any kind of legitimate threat to beat Oregon at Rice-Eccles Stadium later this month?

Remember when the Utes weren’t any kind of legitimate threat to beat Oregon twice this season?

Remember when the idea of the Utes finding a way to qualify for the Rose Bowl was laughable?

Remember when Utah football had lost its way, when its identity had fogged over, when it seemed to have forgotten what had made it what it was in more glorious seasons?

Remember when the Utes weren’t the Utes?

Yeah, me neither.