What have we learned from the College Football Playoff rankings? Conference matters, and strength of schedule is not just lip service. The Utah Utes (7-3, 4-3) are ranked No. 17 this week by the CFP selection committee. Utah's only losses are to conference foes (Washington State, No. 13 Arizona State, and No. 2 Oregon), and the Utes feature wins against No. 19 USC and No. 9 UCLA.
Utah's recent 20-17 double-overtime win on the road against Stanford was clearly seen as a good win, raising the Utes six spots in the rankings. Two of the Utes three losses are seen as good losses, and the two ranked wins, especially over a now No. 9-ranked Bruins squad, doesn't hurt Utah's profile at all. Utah's strength of schedule is seen as stronger than an 9-2 Georgia Tech, an 8-2 Missouri (out of the high-profile SEC), and an 8-2 Nebraska. At the beginning of the season, many Utes fans bemoaned the gauntlet Utah would have to navigate this season, but the success of the team is being recognized against such a brutal schedule.