Week two of the college football season sees Utah in a tough spot. The Utes are receiving votes and are a fringe top 25 team. Unfortunately, they’re playing a Group of Five opponent who was throttled by a Power Five foe just last week, which means even with a win, it likely won’t be enough to push the Utes into the coveted top 25 without teams ahead of them losing. The weekly gamut of matchups around the nation doesn’t bode well for Utah, but there’s still hope. These are the games Utah fans should keep an eye on.
#3 Georgia vs #24 South Carolina Saturday 1:30 PM MT – CBS
Utah’s best shot at breaking in to the top 25 is through Georgia beating South Carolina in an early afternoon matchup between two of the most exciting quarterbacks in the SEC East. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor overwhelmingly favors Georgia, however don’t be surprised if this game is decided in the closing seconds. South Carolina’s offense easily overpowered Coastal Carolina in week one, pulling away 49-15 behind junior quarterback Jake Bentley’s four touchdown performance; but Georgia’s Jake Fromm is ready to lead his Bulldogs back to the playoffs after an impressive freshman campaign that ended with an overtime loss to conference heavyweight Alabama in the National Championship. This game carries a lot of implications beyond the SEC East, so Utah fans should take note.
#2 Clemson vs Texas A&M Saturday 5:00 PM MT – ESPN
After a week one loss to Auburn, Washington has been mostly shut out of early College Football Playoff projections after being viewed as the leading candidate to represent the PAC-12 before the season began. It’s safe to say the national perspective of the PAC-12 is low, but this game could help remedy that to an extent.
The ACC took a hit after LSU upset #8 Miami in week one, leaving Clemson as the lone ACC team in the top 10 (Virginia Tech and Miami are currently ranked at 12 and 22 respectively). If Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M can pull off a remarkable upset, it could help repair the image of the PAC-12 to a certain extent, while the ACC becomes arguably the weakest of the P5 conferences.
While this could hurt Utah’s chances of breaking through the top 25, it helps the conference, which overall will benefit the Utes in the long term. It may seem like a long shot, but if anyone can get Clemson back to “Clemsoning”, its Jimbo Fisher.
#13 Penn State vs Pittsburgh Saturday 6:00 PM MT – ABC
Penn State struggled mightily against Appalachian State in week one, eventually squeaking out a win in overtime. It was about as ugly of a win as you could ask for. Trace McSorley was good but not great, completing 57.1% of his passes, with junior Juwan Johnson reeling in a team high 6 catches. The loss of Saquon Barkley was evident as his replacement, Miles Sanders managed only 91 yards on 19 carries. Whether Penn State was simply suffering from week one jitters or if their performance is indicative of something greater remains to be seen, but an in-state battle against the Pittsburgh Panthers will give the nation a better understanding of what we can expect from the Nittany Lions through the rest of the season. A Pittsburgh win might be enough for voters to move Penn State out of the rankings, making room for Utah to jump in if they are able to walk out of DeKalb with a win.