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Three Games Utah Fans Should Watch This Weekend

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Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Utah football moved into the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings this week and are one of 12 teams according to ESPN that have a shot to make the College Football Playoff in January. At No. 10, not only will the Utes need to win out down the stretch, but they will also need some help from other teams to make it in the playoff. Each week BlockU will breakdown three games that Utah fans should watch and who they should cheer for.

No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 6 Baylor 6:00 p.m. MT ABC

The Big XII missed the inaugural College Football Playoff last season. Possibly because of that, the conference backloaded games between the top teams this season. Starting last week until the end of this season, there will be at least one big game from the Big XII that Utah fans should tune into and care about. Last week, Oklahoma State took down TCU in Stillwater. There are now two undefeated teams left in the Big XII (Baylor and Oklahoma State). This week Oklahoma at Baylor takes center stage. ESPN's College GameDay will broadcast from Waco for the game. Baylor is currently undefeated but not getting much respect from the CFP Committee, who has the Bears outside the top four. This will be the first real test of the season for a Baylor team at or near the top in most offensive categories. Oklahoma has been playing well since losing to Texas earlier this season.

Despite soft nonconference schedules among most of the top Big XII teams, it seems very unlikely that a one-loss Utah could get into the CFP over an undefeated Big XII champion. Utah fans should be pulling for Oklahoma to win. Baylor is ranked ahead of Utah and would get in over the Utes if they finish undefeated. There are currently five Power Five teams that are still undefeated from three different conferences (ACC, Big Ten, and Big XII). For a one-loss Pac-12 champion to make the playoff, they need one of those three conferences to have a one-loss champion.

Who will win and what does it mean for Utah?

I am going to call the upset and say Oklahoma gets the win on the road. Oklahoma has tons of talent on both sides of the ball. They can score with Baylor. Baylor showed in their last game against Kansas State that they are vulnerable to a good rushing attack. Oklahoma has that with running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Running the ball and controlling the clock can keep Baylor's offense off the field. Baylor has talent on defense, but they have not proven they can stop a potent offense yet. An Oklahoma win would mean that only Oklahoma State would be left undefeated in the Big XII with games against Baylor and Oklahoma still looming (both at home). If Baylor wins, it would be a nice win to add to their resume. They still have to play at Oklahoma State and at TCU in the next two weeks, so they are certainly not out of the woods even with a win in this game.

No. 2 Alabama at No. 17 Mississippi State 11:30 a.m. MT on CBS

Why should Utah fans watch and who should they root for?

Alabama, despite having one loss, is currently ranked in the top four and will almost undoubtedly make the CFP if they win out. This is the last ranked team Alabama will play in the regular season (their final two games are against Charleston Southern and at Auburn) before the SEC Championship game against Florida. Unless total chaos ensues in the next few weeks, it seems highly unlikely that a two-loss Alabama team makes the CFP. With five Power Five conferences and only four spots in the playoff, at least one Power Five conference champion will get left out. If Mississippi State wins, Alabama also no longer controls their own destiny in the SEC West, with LSU, MSU, and Ole Miss all having either a better record in conference or owning the tie-breaker. The less CFP contenders there are, the better chance Utah has to make it into the CFP. One other reason Utah fans should cheer for the Bulldogs is they have former Utah quarterback, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and former Utah quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen on staff (as quarterbacks coach and head coach respectively).

Who will win and what does it mean for Utah?

Alabama. The Crimson Tide have more talent on their roster and have been playing well since losing at home to Ole Miss. Alabama running back Derrick Henry jumped firmly into the Heisman race after last week. Do not be surprised to see him have a big game. Alabama's defense will face a good quarterback in Dak Prescott, but they have been playing well. An Alabama win would not be disastrous for the Utes. The SEC will almost assuredly get a team in the CFP. Right now, Alabama is the favorite to make it, but there are two other one-loss SEC teams (LSU and Florida) as well.

Oregon at No. 7 Stanford 5:30 p.m. MT on Fox

Why should Utah fans watch and who should they root for?

The winner of this game has represented the North in every Pac-12 Championship game since the conference expanded in 2011 and has won the Pac-12 each season as well. The last two years have seen one of the teams coming in unranked (Stanford last year and Oregon this year), which is a shift from the previous three meetings when both teams were ranked. If Stanford wins, they win the Pac-12 North. If Oregon wins, they are still eligible to win the North, but they need help. Not only do they need to win out, but they would also need Stanford to lose to Cal at home.

Utah already beat Oregon this year and would only play Stanford if they meet in Levi's Stadium for the Pac-12 Championship game. An Oregon win would make Utah's 42-point over the Ducks in Eugene look better, but a Stanford win would be better for Utah. If Utah wants to make the CFP, a win over an 11-1 Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game would be a huge resume boost right before the final vote. It would be a huge statement win from the Utes.

Who will win and what does it mean for Utah?

The Cardinal have too much offense for the poor Ducks defense to stop, and the Stanford defense will make enough stops. Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. is at his best when plays breakdown and he can create, but Stanford's defense is disciplined and will likely be able to limit big plays on broken plays. A Stanford win preserves the possibility of an epic Pac-12 Championship matchup between 11-1 Stanford against 11-1 Utah with a possible CFP spot on the line. If Oregon wins, they very well could move back into the top 25, which would make that win look better for Utah, so it would not be too bad for the Utes.