clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Utah's path to a regular season championship

Basically, unless the Utes drop one of their two remaining home games, they should be a lock for at least a share of the conference title. But that isn't what we want, right? We want that title to ourselves and it's something very doable, albeit with the help of a few other teams. 

The Utes are currently two games ahead of their next conference foe, which gives them some room for error. If they don't want to share that title with either the Lobos, Aztecs or Cougars, then they'll need finish the season 3-1. That would require winning at either BYU or New Mexico, which seems like a big stretch, especially with how both those teams have played at home. This is why I said above that winning an outright conference title would require a little help from others. 

So now that we've established Utah is almost a lock for at least a split (unless they muck up the UNLV game), this is what we want to see over the next few weeks.

BYU

Currently 8-4

 

Opponent Best Realistic Outcome
@ SDSU

A loss here would make it very unlikely

the Cougars could win a share of the 

conference crown. So Ute fans should

cheer for the Aztecs.

Utah

This is far more important to BYU than 

Utah. Sure, if the Utes could win in

Provo, it'd be huge, but BYU needs to

win this game not only for their

conference standing, but their NCAA

Tournament resume. Ideally, though,

Utah wins.

@ Wyoming

If the Cougars beat the Aztecs and

Utes, this becomes a must-win.

Wyoming has lost only once at home

this season (to Utah), so this is a 

game BYU could lose.

Air Force The Falcons, at home, is a lock.

 

 

San Diego State

Currently 8-4

 

Opponent Best Realistic Outcome
BYU

This is the toughest game left on SDSU's

schedule and pretty much an elimination

game between them and BYU. Take your

pick, would you rather possibily split with

BYU or SDSU if a split were unavoidable?

Of course, in a perfect world, BYU would

win here and then lose to Utah, setting up

a likely outright champion possibility.

@ TCU

Unlikely a loss, though you never know with

how poorly SDSU has played at times on the

road this season.

CSU The Rams are pretty bad, especially on the road.
UNLV

Payback for the Rebels? Maybe. If the Aztecs do 

beat BYU, UNLV might be Utah's only hope of

an outright championship.

 

 

New Mexico Lobos

Currently 8-4

 

Opponent Best Realistic Outcome
TCU I don't see how this is a loss.
@ CSU Again, very likely a victory.
Utah

If the Utes could pull the victory here, all the other

games become moot, as it's very likely they win 

the title outright. 

@ Wyoming

This game could prove to be difficult and if the

Utes aren't lucky enough to win either road games

in the coming weeks, this could decide whether

they split or share the championship.

 

Looking at it as objectively as possible, I think the Utes probably share the conference title this season. As much as I would love to see them win it outright, that would require either winning in Provo or Albuquerque or San Diego State, New Mexico and BYU losing once more this season. It's possible, but as you map out each schedule, you find it's not too difficult for any of these three to win out to end the season.

If BYU beats San Diego State, the probability of winning out increases greatly. In that scenario, the Utes would either have to hope for a victory in Provo Saturday or a loss at Wyoming. Two options that could happen, but not ones I would bet on if I were a betting man. 

If SDSU beats the Cougars, it's up to UNLV to go on the road and win a huge one against the Aztecs. Possible, of course, yet do we really want it to all hinge on that? 

If New Mexico beats Utah, you've got to think they'll win out and finish the conference season at 12-4. Their toughest game left would be against Wyoming and the Cowboys just aren't very good this season, regardless of what their record is at home. Like with BYU, I don't think we'd want it to come down to this game. 

So how can Utah avoid all of this? Well beat the Rebels, then the Cougars and it would seem nearly impossible for them not to win an outright title. Of course, pesky TCU could derail those hopes, but I'd rather bank on Utah winning that game than hoping for a Rebel or Cowboy victory down the road.