We have previously highlighted three games Utah fans should watch. Now that we passing the halfway mark of the season, we thought instead of highlighting just three games, we would give you a rooting guide to all of the games in the Pac-12 and some key national games. We will tell you who you should root for and what effect a win by that team would have on Utah and/or the Pac-12.
USC at Arizona 1:30 p.m. MDT FOX
Utah fans should pull for Arizona in this game. It would be a huge upset and highly unlikely, but a third conference loss (especially with trips to Washington and UCLA still on the Trojan’s schedule) would likely eliminate USC from Pac-12 South contention. I expect a USC win however.
Stanford at Notre Dame 5:30 p.m. MDT NBC
Back the Pac in this one and cheer for Stanford. Before the season, many thought this could be a game with big College Football Playoff implications. The Cardinal and the Fighting Irish have both struggled this season. Notre Dame cannot stop anyone, and Stanford cannot score this season. Expect Christian McCaffrey to get going against a bad Notre Dame defense and get Stanford a get right win in South Bend, Ind.
Arizona State at Colorado 6:00 p.m. MDT Pac-12 Networks
Arguments can be made for both teams because each is a Pac-12 South contender, and Utah has to face both teams on the road. Root for the Sun Devils in this one though. A Colorado win would make the Rumble in the Rockies more compelling, but Colorado has an easier schedule down the stretch than the Sun Devils. I think the Buffaloes take this game at home to stay in the thick of the Pac-12 South race.
UCLA at Washington State 8:30 p.m. MDT ESPN
A third loss in conference for UCLA would put the Bruins in a tenuous position in the Pac-12 South, so cheer for Washington State to take this game at home. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is a game time decision in this one, which is not good news for UCLA. Even if he does play, he likely will not be 100% and has to face an improving Washington State defense. WSU’s offense is playing well and should be able to move the ball and score points at home. I predict the Cougars have too much firepower for the Bruins to deal with, especially with Rosen out or likely limited at best.
NC State at No. 3 Clemson
Pull for the underdog Wolfpack in this one because it knocks a CFP contender off the ranks of the unbeaten, but expect a Clemson win. This game also has an impact on Utah’s chance of hosting ESPN’s College Gameday, more on this later.
Kansas State at No. 19 Oklahoma
For Utah to move up in the rankings, two things need to happen, they need to win and they need teams ahead of them to lose. Root for KSU to win over Oklahoma, but Oklahoma will probably take this one.
No. 20 West Virginia at Texas Tech
West Virginia is one of only two undefeated teams in the Big XII, and the Pac-12 has scored a win over TTU already. A Texas Tech win would hurt the Big XII’s playoff chances and knock off a team ranked ahead of the Utes. Pull for the Red Raiders and expect them to win a shootout at home.
No. 10 Nebraska at Indiana
Utah has one chance to host ESPN’s College Gameday this season, in week nine against Washington. There are in my opinion two higher priority games that day even if the Utes and Huskies get to week nine without losing in the next two weeks. Those games are Florida State at Clemson in a huge ACC Atlantic Division showdown, and Nebraska at Wisconsin in the game that will likely decide the Big 10 West. An Indiana win knocks off an undefeated team (that I honestly think is overrated) and helps Utah’s chance of getting College Gameday. I am not sold on Nebraska and think the Hoosiers can pull off the huge upset.
North Carolina at No. 16 Miami
Cheer for the Tar Heels in this ACC Coastal showdown but expect the Hurricanes to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss against Florida State.
Wake Forest at No. 14 Florida State
Pull for Wake Forest to knock off Florida State, who is ranked ahead of Utah, but do not expect the Demon Deacons to have enough to take down the Seminoles on the road. A Wake Forest win would also help Utah’s chance of getting College Gameday.
Kansas at No. 11 Baylor
Baylor is the other undefeated Big XII team, and with how weak of a nonconference schedule they played, a loss likely eliminates them from the College Football Playoff. A win by Kansas would utterly derail the Baylor’s playoff hopes, but they are 33.5 point underdogs for a reason and will likely get blown out.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 9 Tennessee
A huge rivalry is relevant again. Alabama is the reigning National Champions and will likely stay ranked No. 1 unless someone beats them, so cheer for Tennessee to knock off the Crimson Tide. I think though that Alabama will have too much and will win on the road.
Missouri at No. 18 Florida
Florida is one team that I am not sold on this season, and they are ranked ahead of Utah, so a loss to the Tigers would help Utah. I just do not think Mizzou can go into the Swamp and come out victorious.
Tulsa at No. 13 Houston
Houston started off the season with a huge win over Oklahoma, but then they stumbled against Navy. Houston, given how weak their schedule is and how Oklahoma has not lived up to preaseason hype, is likely a little overrated. A loss to Tulsa, which likely will not happen, would possibly cause Houston to fall out of the top 25, which helps Utah and the Pac-12.
No. 12 Ole Miss at No. 22 Arkansas
This is a matchup of overrated two-loss SEC teams. Both teams have losses to top 15 teams, and neither has a win over a currently ranked team. This is kind of a no-win game for Utah. If Ole Miss wins, Arkansas, who is ranked behind Utah, falls out of the top 25, which would not help Utah move up should the Utes beat the Beavers today. If Arkansas wins, they would likely jump Utah, and Ole Miss would likely still be ranked (though behind Utah if the Utes win). Since Ole Miss is ranked higher, pull for the upset by Arkansas. I expect the Rebels win this though.
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 8 Wisconsin
This was the game that College Gameday broadcast live from this morning. As I wrote in the Nebraska-Indiana write up, the Nebraska-Wisconsin game could be compelling for College Gameday if both teams come into that game in the top 10. An Ohio State win in this game, would help Utah’s chances to get College Gameday. Wisconsin has been a nice story this season, but they have climbed in the rankings by beating overrated teams. Ohio State is a team unlikely any Wisconsin has faced, and I do not think the Badgers have enough offense to keep up with the Buckeyes in this huge Big 10 showdown.
Colorado State at No. 15 Boise State
Again, root for the unranked team to pull the upset, but Colorado State likely will not be able to on the road at a good Boise State team.