The Pac-12 South race was even crazier in the first half of the season than many expected. CBS Sports also released a list of 12 teams that can still make the College Football Playoff, and Utah is one of the teams. Utah has business of their own to take care of today with a tough matchup at UCLA. If the Utes can beat the Bruins, they will still be in the thick of both the Pac-12 South and College Football Playoff race. Here is a rooting guide to help you on who to cheer for in other games around the nation and the impact the result could have on the Utes. We have not included games with point spreads of 20 or more like Illinois at No. 3 Michigan or Purdue at No. 8 Nebraska because the beneficial outcome for Utah is so unlikely and would require historic upsets. There are fewer games on the list this week because of multiple bad match ups and bye weeks.
Colorado at Stanford 1:00 p.m. MDT Pac-12 Networks
Coming into today, Colorado and Utah are tied atop the Pac-12 South with one loss in conference each. A Stanford win would help Utah, but a Colorado win (provided Utah can hold serve) would make the Rumble in Rockies more compelling in the final week of the season, which could help Utah’s postseason hopes if they win the game and could help that develop more into a real rivalry. I think Stanford gets the W at home, which I do think is the better outcome for Utah.
Oregon State at No. 5 Washington 4:30 p.m. MDT Pac-12 Networks
Cheer for the Huskies. Having an undefeated, top 5 team coming into Rice-Eccles Stadium next week is better than a huge upset. UW should destroy the Beavers and come into Rice-Eccles for hopefully a top 15 matchup with ESPN’s College Gameday in town.
Washington State at Arizona State 8:00 p.m. MDT Pac-12 Networks
Arizona State with two conference losses is not out of the Pac-12 South race, but losses to Colorado and USC hurt their chances. A loss in this game would all but eliminate the Sun Devils’ hope of winning the Pac-12 South. It has been since 2001 that the Cougars have won in Tempe, but I think they can get it done. They are playing more physically on both offense and defense and actually have emphasized the running game a little bit.
NC State at No. 7 Louisville
NC State nearly shocked Clemson last week, can they get it done today against Louisville? Maybe. A second loss for the Cardinals would knock them out of the College Football Playoff picture and would fall in the rankings, both would be good for Utah and the Pac-12.
No. 10 Wisconsin at Iowa
Wisconsin is highly overrated in my opinion. They beat two overrated teams to climb into the top 10 and have subsequently lost two games to top 5 teams. I do not think Wisconsin should be ranked in the top 10. I think the Hawkeyes has a realistic chance to beat the Badgers. A third loss for Wisconsin should cause them to plummet in the rankings. They also play Nebraska next week that could get College Gameday if it is a top 10 matchup to essentially decide the Big 10 West, but a Wisconsin loss would make that matchup far less intriguing.
No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Defending National Champion Alabama is favored by 19 points against a top 10 Texas A&M team. Think about that for a minute, they are nearly three touchdown favorites over a top 10 team. Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight beat Alabama with Oklahoma in the 2015 Sugar Bowl. Texas A&M has talent across the board, and I thin they will keep this closer than the point spread, but I really do not see them pulling the upset. There really is not a best outcome from this game for Utah and the Pac-12, so cheer for the underdog and root for the Aggies.
TCU at No. 12 West Virginia
There are only two Big XII teams that are not eliminated from the College Football Playoff picture: Baylor and West Virginia because each is undefeated. With how weak the Big XII has looked this season, a single loss for either team likely eliminates them from CFP contention. West Virginia has climbed in the rankings without really having a marquee win. Cheer for former Mountain West conference mate TCU to pull the upset.
No. 17 Arkansas at No. 21 Auburn
This game is a bit like the Arkansas-Ole Miss game last week where there is not really an obvious positive outcome for the Utes. Both of these teams are overrated SEC teams that are ranked despite having multiple losses and no quality wins. Root for Auburn to pull this one out at home since they are ranked behind the Utes, I just worry they could jump the Utes with a win (even though they should not) because “SEC.”
No. 16 Oklahoma at Texas Tech
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield’s return to Lubbock after transferring from Texas Tech to Oklahoma after the 2013 season. Oklahoma is ranked ahead of Utah despite having two losses, so if Utah wins against UCLA, an Oklahoma loss would help the Utes move up. I see the Sooners winning though.