3. Utah Utes (55 wins)
Yeah, it really is possible to go from being a great Group of Five program to a top-shelf Power Fiver.
TCU was on this list last year – and came within a questionable ruling and decision of getting into the 2014 College Football Playoff – and Utah has been able to rise up from the pack to be the winningest Pac-12 South program over the last six seasons.
USC might be splashier, but it has 51 wins over the last six seasons to Utah’s 55.
The Utes have won nine games or more in five of the last six years, and it came within a Pac-12 Championship win last season of probably getting the No. 4 seed and the right to deal with LSU. And to think, this whole step up in weight class didn’t appear to be going so well.
A Mountain West superstar, Utah left for the Pac-10 and joined Colorado to make it the Pac-12 in 2011. Three years later, there was concerns about whether or not the program could hack it, going 18-19 before breaking out in 2014.
The Pac-12 is still very, very gettable. The South still stinks, so if Utah can make it three runs in a row to the championship, get there at 11-1, and win it this time around, it might finally get over the hump and be one of the strongest stories of the CFP era.