Rick Bowmer
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and his team prepares to take the field prior to their game against the BYU during an NCAA college football game Saturday Nov. 24, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — Twenty-three days remain until the start of the college football season in the state of Utah.

That leaves plenty of time for praise for the University of Utah football team to continue rolling in. The latest hype includes the Utes being ranked No. 13 in ESPN’s preseason power rankings.

“The media picked the Utes to win the Pac-12 title, and with 15 starters back to a team that won the Pac-12 South last year, you have to like their chances. Thousand-yard rusher Zack Moss is back, and so is a healthier Tyler Huntley, who packed on 25-plus pounds of muscle during the offseason,” ESPN’s Edward Aschoff wrote about Utah.

The Utes are joined in the power rankings by fellow Pac-12 teams Oregon (No. 11), Washington (No. 14) and Stanford (No. 20).

Utah also showed up on Sporting News’ list of five sleepers for a College Football Playoff berth. In addition to the Utes, writer Bill Bender chose a candidate from each Power 5 conference as a potential party crasher: Auburn from the SEC, Syracuse of the ACC, Iowa State of the Big 12 and Nebraska of the Big Ten.

Bender wrote that the Utes’ chances will come down to winning a trio of road games — at BYU, USC and Washington — while also avoiding “a head-scratching loss that would allow the committee to ditch a one-loss Pac-12 champion.”

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“The Utes are always solid under Kyle Whittingham, but this team should be poised to take over the Pac-12 South Division again. The return of former offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig will only help with the continuity. This is the media's preseason pick to win the Pac-12, and Whittingham knows how to deal with those expectations,” Bender wrote.

The Utes open the season Aug. 29 against BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

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And finally …

Washington State head football coach Mike Leach is always good for a memorable moment. This one shows the coach showing off his diving skills.