Big 12 newcomer Utah tabbed as favorite to win the expanded 16-team football conference this fall

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Big 12 newcomer Utah has been picked to finish first in the expanded 16-team football conference this fall in a preseason poll of media who cover the league.

The Utes got 20 of 61 first-place votes in the poll released Tuesday, a week before the start of the league’s football media days in Las Vegas. Kansas State got 19 first-place votes and was picked second, ahead of last year’s Big 12 runner-up Oklahoma State, which was first on 14 ballots. Kansas (five first-place votes) and Arizona (three) rounded out the top five.

Pac-12 teams Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah officially became Big 12 members this week, at the same time that reigning Big 12 champion Texas and Oklahoma joined the Southeastern Conference.

Colorado and coach Deion Sanders were picked 11th in the preseason poll, with Arizona State picked 16th.

The league also announced its preseason individual awards, led by NCAA rushing champion Ollie Gordon II from Oklahoma State as the offensive player of the year.

Colorado defensive back Travis Hunter, who has also played receiver for the Buffaloes, was selected as the defensive player of the year. Former Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson, now at UCF, was tabbed as newcomer of the year.


This story has been corrected to show that Travis Hunter has been selected defensive player of the year not the offensive player of the year.


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