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National Games to Watch: Week 3

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Week three presents a unique challenge for the Utes. While they have been receiving votes since the preseason, they’ve been just on the precipice of breaking into the top 25, initially relying on the teams ahead of them falling out to finally break in. This week is a different story. With the #10 Washington Huskies making their way to Salt Lake City, if the Utes have any hope of securing a ranking, it’s squarely on their shoulders to do so. With that said, there are still some games around the nation to keep an eye on.

#17 Boise State vs #24 Oklahoma State Saturday 1:30 PM MT – ESPN

The one game that has a chance to help Utah is Boise State vs Oklahoma State. The Cowboys leapfrogged the Utes last week into the AP rankings after a convincing 55-13 win over South Alabama while Boise State has been steadily climbing the polls since debuting at #22 in the preseason rankings. If the Utes lose to Washington but can keep things close and competitive, they may still garner enough votes to slide in if Oklahoma State loses to Boise State in a blow-out.

Central Michigan vs Northern Illinois Saturday 1:30 PM MT – ESPN+

With an afternoon schedule that includes big-time match-ups like LSU vs Auburn and Ohio State vs TCU, sitting down for some MACtion between two winless teams seems more like a chore than must-see TV, but for Ute fans, this is an important game.

It’s no secret that Utah’s offense struggled against NIU. If the Huskies can bounce back and roll a Central Michigan team that has also showed some promise over two weeks against back-to-back P5 opponents, it may help some Ute faithful get over the ugly win and justify the generally sloppy performance.

BYU vs #6 Wisconsin Saturday 1:30 PM MT – ABC

As mentioned before, Utah’s chances of entering week four in the top 25 rests squarely on their own shoulders. For the most part, teams above them won’t be much help, so this would be a good week to get a feel for Utah’s final out of conference opponent, BYU.

With a 1-1 record, the Cougars are a tough team to get a read on at this point. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Arizona is not a good team this season, so the week one win against the Wildcats doesn’t tell us much, but the Cougars played tight against Cal in week two, eventually losing 21-18. Utah’s closest rival faces their toughest test yet when they take on #6 Wisconsin Badgers. The current line has the Cougars a -22 point underdog, and an upset seems unlikely if not nearly impossible, but if BYU is able to at least cover the spread, it would be a good sign for the Cougars and Coach Sitake.