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National Games to Watch: Week 12

NCAA Football: Florida State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Week 12 is upon us as the 2018 college football season is winding down. Despite just two weeks left in the season, there are plenty of games left on the schedule that could impact the Utes outside of the PAC-12. Of course, with the PAC-12 South still hanging in the balance, Kyle Whittingham and co., will need to take care of business in Boulder, but a win could propel the Utes after a potentially wild weekend.

#12 Syracuse vs #3 Notre Dame Saturday 12:30 PM MT - NBC

The Fighting Irish will face only their third ranked opponent of 2018 when they take on the ACC’s surprise team of the year, the Syracuse Orange. At 8-2, ‘Cuse played conference rival and playoff shoe-in Clemson down to the wire in week five and followed that up with an overtime loss to Pittsburgh the following week. Since then, the Orange have won four straight including a 51-41 win over the then #22 NC State Wolfpack. As the last best shot to take down Notre Dame, and Syracuse victory would likely shuffle the playoff standings, potentially making room for Washington State to slip in, giving Utah an easier route to a big-time bowl game.

#24 Cincinnati vs #11 UCF Saturday 6:00 PM MT - ABC

The American Athletic Conference has provided one of the most anticipated non-Power Five matchups of the season. The playoff committee has been unwilling to move the Knights into the top 10 as national pundits point to a weak strength of schedule as the likely reason for their low ranking. UCF now has a chance to prove their worth in a ranked match-up against the Bearcats, who, with an upset, could throw a wrench into the race for a New Year’s Six Bowl that is guaranteed to the highest ranked Group of Five program. The committee would then likely be forced to split hairs between Cincinnati, UCF and Utah State.

#16 Iowa State vs #15 Texas Saturday 6:00 PM – The Longhorn Network

A #15 vs #16 matchup is perfect for a Utah squad sitting at #19. Utah fans may be interested in keeping an eye on Texas, who is a possible opponent if the Utes draw an Alamo Bowl bid, but regardless of how this game ends, it will likely give the Utes a bump in the rankings, as the losing team will likely drop below #19.