This week is light on must-see games for Utah fans. In week six, there are only two games between ranked teams, and one already happened on Thursday when Louisville and NC State squared off. The only other game between ranked teams has ESPN College GameDay in town. We also like to focus on other Pac-12 teams in this space, especially ones in the Pac-12 South. However, two Pac-12 South teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils and UCLA Bruins, are on a bye this week. The Arizona Wildcats travel to the Colorado Buffaloes in a battle between teams winless in Pac-12 play. The USC Trojans, the preseason favorite in the Pac-12 South, and the only team in the South with more than one win in conference play, hosts the Oregon State Beavers, the worst team in the conference and are favored by almost five touchdowns. The best game in the conference this week is arguably the game between the Utah Utes and the Stanford Cardinal (and I might make the argument this could be the best game period this week), which we know Utah fans will be watching anyway. Our SBNation colleague Bill Connelly highlighted Utah-Stanford towards the end of his PODCAST AIN’T PLAYED NOBODY. There is only one other decent Pac-12 game, and it is included, but it is between teams in the Pac-12 North. We usually highlight three games, but after looking around the country, there really are not three non-Utah games for Utah fans to watch this week, so we highlight one Pac-12 game and one national game.
No. 23 West Virginia Mountaineers at No. 8 Texas Christian Horned Frogs 1:30 p.m. MT FS1
The only game between ranked teams on the slate today. TCU shot into the top 10 after beating the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater two weeks ago. TCU was on a bye last week, so they have either had two weeks to bask in the glory of their win or two weeks to move on and get prepared for a talented West Virginia (or Western Virginia as our colleagues at Frogs O’ War have been saying to troll WVU for the past two weeks). West Virginia lost a close game at FedEx Field in week one to the Virginia Tech Hokies but have been perfect since then.
Who to root for and who will win
Former Mountain West foe TCU has done well since moving to the Big XII and is one of only two undefeated teams in the conference, along with the Oklahoma Sooners. If TCU were to lose, the Big XII is likely down to one serious College Football Playoff contender. Since there are only four spots in the College football Playoff and five Power Five conferences, at least one conference champion is left out, so it is best for Utah and the Pac-12 if the Big XII has all their CFP contenders eliminated because most projections have the Pac-12 Champion missing the College Football Playoff if it were to happen today. While it would be good for the conference if West Virginia won, I think TCU wins this game at home. They will likely start out slow but will assert their will in the second half of this game.
The Cougars are coming off a huge home win over the USC Trojans last Friday night while the Ducks are coming off a win against Cal where they lost both starting quarterback Justin Herbert and backup quarterback Taylor Alie to injury, forcing the Ducks to burn the redshirt on Braxton Burmeister. Can the Cougars put their USC win behind them and get the win in Autzen Stadium? How will the Ducks look if they are forced to play a true freshman at quarterback?
Who to root for and who will win
The team to root for here is Washington State. The more highly ranked teams in the Pac-12 the better. I also think WSU wins this game. I am still not sold on the Ducks defense being vastly improved, and I think they will be less potent offensively without Herbert playing. I do not think the Ducks can score with the Cougars, and I think the Cougars have a better defense that plays fast and is built to stop spread offenses like Oregon’s.