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Three Games to Watch Today

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NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This is arguably the best opening weekend of college football ever. There are huge Pac-12-SEC match ups and ACC-SEC match ups that figure to help shape the College Football Playoff picture in week one. There are more than just three must-see games, but we picked three that Utah fans should watch because they all have an impact on Utah.

No. 1 Alabama vs No. 20 USC AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas 6:00 p.m. MT ABC

This is a meeting of two college football heavyweights. Alabama begins their national title defense against the premier program on the West Coast in USC. Both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks, with Alabama possibly starting former Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood star Cooper Bateman. USC will feature Utah transfer defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu. This game could help shape the College Football Playoff picture because both teams are expected to compete for their respective conference titles. Utah opens Pac-12 play against USC at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m. MT, so this will be the first look Utah gets at the Trojans.

Who should Utah fans root for?

USC. If the Trojans can somehow pull off the upset, they will rocket up in the rankings, which could mean Utah opens their Pac-12 season against a top 10 team at home. It will give the Pac-12 a ton of bragging rights and should help the Pac-12 get a team into the College Football Playoff after missing out last year.

Who will win?

Alabama. The Crimson Tide did lose a lot off of their national title team, including Heisman Trophy winner running back Derrick Henry, but the Tide still have too much talent for USC and should win this game.

No. 16 UCLA at Texas A&M 1:30 p.m. MT CBS

This game features two possible No. 1 overall draft picks in 2017 and 2018 respectively in Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. This is another Pac-12-SEC matchup that could be a factor when the College Football Playoff selection committee picks the four teams for the playoff. UCLA was the preseason media favorite to win the Pac-12 South. Texas A&M is unranked but talented and will be playing hard for their head coach Kevin Sumlin, who is on the hot seat. Texas A&M is predicted to finish in the middle to lower half of the SEC West, so a loss by the Pac-12 South frontrunner to a middle of the pack SEC West team would hurt the Pac-12 Conference.

Who should Utah fans root for?

UCLA. This game almost feels like a must-win for the Pac-12’s College Football Playoff hopes. The Pac-12 missed the playoff last year, and many national pundits think the conference will be left out again this year. A win by UCLA in this game gives the Pac-12 a little bit of bragging rights over the SEC, but a loss would be horrible for the conference.

Who will win?

This one will likely be close, but the Bruins are likely the better team and should be able to get a close win. Sumlin has only defeated one ranked team at Kyle Field as Texas A&M’s head coach compared with six losses.

BYU at Arizona University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona 8:30 p.m. MT

This game does not feature a ranked team, but it should have particular interest to Utah fans because Utah plays both of these teams early in the 2016 season, with BYU being Utah’s next opponent at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 5:30 p.m. MT. BYU has a whole new coaching staff and will transition to new schemes on offense and defense. This is the first and only look Utah will get at BYU before the matchup next weekend against the Cougars.

Who should Utah fans root for?

I dislike both of these teams, and I will leave it up to you who you want to root for... A BYU win would set up a higher profile game next week for the Holy War, while an Arizona win would look better for the Pac-12.

Who will win?

Arizona. I think they will have too much offense for a BYU defense that is switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 under new head coach Kalani Sitake. BYU will also be running a new offensive scheme. Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez’s offense shredded Sitake’s defense when Sitake was at Utah and Oregon State. This game should be high scoring and come down to the end with the Wildcats having just a little too much for the Cougars.