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3 National Games to Watch

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Utes are in a familiar position as they are once again just below the top 25 in both the AP and Coaches poll. A win over USC would likely attract the attention of some hold-outs, but without top ranked teams losing, the odds of Utah breaking through the top 25 seems unlikely. Fortunately, there are several match-ups in week eight that carry some big implications for the Utes.

#6 Michigan vs #24 Michigan State Saturday 10:00 AM MT - FOX

​The biggest game outside of the PAC-12 for Ute fans to keep an eye on is the in-state battle between Michigan and Michigan State. Since their week one loss to Notre Dame, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines have rattled off 6 straight wins, including a dominating performance against #15 Wisconsin last week. The Spartans, on the other hand, have struggled a bit since week one. Despite their 4-2 record, their average margin of victory is only 9 points (compared to Big Blue’s 27.6) and struggled against lower level opponents including Utah State and Central Michigan. Vegas currently has the Wolverines as touchdown favorites, while ESPN’s Matchup Predictor gives Michigan a 68.9% chance of toppling the Spartans.

#22 Mississippi State vs #5 LSU Saturday 5:00 PM MT - ESPN

​Mississippi State will look to keep the momentum going as they enter the bayou to battle the surging Tigers of LSU. After a shocking defeat over Auburn last week, snapping a two-gamelosing streak, the Bulldogs proved they still have some fight left in them. Similarly, LSU stunned the former #2 team in the nation when they easily handled Georgia. 36-16 last week, proving they’re still a threat in the SEC West. A win against the Bulldogs would set up a thrilling matchup against Alabama on November 3rd that would likely determine the SEC West champion and make some room for Utah to potentially enter the national ranks.

San Jose State vs San Diego State Saturday 8:30 PM MT – CBSSN

​San Diego State is heavily favored over the winless Spartans of San Jose State, whithESPN’s Matchup Predictor giving the Aztec’s a whopping 94.8% chance of winning. As one of two Mountain West teams receiving more votes than Utah (the other being Utah State), Ute fans should start paying attention SDSU. With an incredibly winnable game Saturday night and a cake-walk schedule ahead of them, the Aztec’s winning ways may make it difficult for the Utes to break into the national scene. Considering SDSU’s average margin of victory over conference opponents this season is only 5 points, and the Spartan’s conference games have been lost by an average of 5.5 points, a monumental upset is a very real possibility.