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Commentary: Utah Utes football presented with biggest opportunity in program history

Published: Tuesday, July 23 2013 10:45 a.m. MDT

Tell that to Barry Switzer. Most Utah fans remember how high he was on Alabama prior to the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Five minutes into the game, it was clear that he had prepared for the game by gulping Crimson Tide brand Kool-Aid by the gallon.

None of this, however, makes the impending season any easier.

Absolutely what the Utes have on the doorstep is the biggest challenge the school's football team has ever faced over the course of a season. It's very possible that they will fail, and most are saying it's likely.

However, it is also the program's biggest opportunity ever.

If they do beat Oregon, Stanford, Utah State, BYU, USC, Arizona State and everyone else, there will be no dispute like there was after the 2008 season as to where the Utes belong in the final rankings. They will have beaten the best, and by so doing, will be the best.

When the Utes hoisted their Fiesta and Sugar Bowl trophies, they earned the opportunity to demonstrate that the "little team that could" could also be a "big team that can." That's what any football program wants: a chance to prove they're the best by beating the best.

The Utes wanted that opportunity for decades. They got that opportunity when they joined the Pac-12 three years ago. Now, they get to show if they're up to it.

Note: This article has been modified from its original version to correct inaccurate information. Utah has had two players named to 2013 college football award preseason watch lists, not one.

Landon Hemsley is the sports web producer for DeseretNews.com. Email: lhemsley@deseretnews.com. Twitter.com/EarlOfHemsley

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