2. Utah Utes
The Big 12 is already interested in Utah, and for good reason. Among these four discussed schools, Utah is obviously the on-field heavyweight.
The Utes have won 10 or 11 games in each of the past three non-COVID seasons and have spent time in the AP Top 10 rankings at several different points in the past decade. They’ve also reached the past two Rose Bowls after winning each of the past two Pac-12 championships.
Utah has also been ranked in the AP Top 25 in each of the past nine seasons after earlier capturing the hearts of the nation in the famous 2008 13-0 season. That year’s Utah squad defeated Michigan, Oregon State, and BYU before dispatching Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl to finish the season with the No. 2 overall ranking in the country.
In three of the past six NFL Drafts, teams have selected five or more Utah players. NFL squads have selected 22 Utes players in that span, including two first-round selections.
It’s an obvious plus that reuniting Utah and BYU in the same conference brings the fun of the “Holy War” rivalry to the Big 12. The two schools were both longtime members of the WAC and the Mountain West until 2010 when the Utes departed for the Pac-12 and the Cougars joined the independent ranks.
The two have mostly maintained their rivalry since no longer remaining in the same league. Utah won nine matchups in a row until 2021 when BYU defeated the Utes 26-17 at home. The two schools have met 95 times since 1922, with Utah holding a 59-32-4 advantage.