While the No. 13 Utah Utes have a huge home game today at 4:00 p.m. MT against the No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils, one of two ranked games in the Pac-12, there are a few other games around the conference that Pac-12 fans should pay attention to.
While this game will not move the needle nationally, it is of note for Utah because it is their last opponent facing off against their next opponent. Cal has one of the better defenses in the conference, but their offense has struggled. The Beavers feature an explosive offense, but it was grounded by Utah’s defense last week. The keys for me to watch in this game is how does OSU do against Cal’s defense, that will tell us a lot about Cal’s defense, and can Cal move the ball on a bad OSU defense? I think Cal wins, and that is the best outcome for Utah.
This is the other ranked matchup in the Pac-12 today. The Huskies host the rival Ducks in a do or die game for their Pac-12 North hopes. The Huskies were expected to be one of the best teams in the Pac-12 this year, but they have suffered two bad losses this year already, both to Pac-12 North teams. If the Ducks win this game, the Huskies are effectively out of the Pac-12 North race after winning the division (and conference) two of the last three years, and three-straight New Year’s Six bowl appearances. While it pains me to say this, a Ducks win would be better for Utah for two reasons. If (and this is a big if) Oregon and Utah make the Pac-12 Championship game as both 11-1 teams, the winner likely goes to the College Football Playoff while the loser would still likely make the Rose Bowl. If Utah can win the South, it would be best for the Utes to face the highest ranked North team as possible to help with postseason destination. The second reason is if Washington is out of the North race, it likely makes Utah’s game at Washington on Nov. 2 easier if the Huskies are not playing for their lives in the North.
While Utah is the highest ranked team in the Pac-12 South, if the season ended today, the 3-3 USC Trojans would win the South because of their victory over Utah back in September. Utah needs USC to lose a minimum of one more conference game. This is likely not the game the Trojans lose, they are on a six game winning streak against the Wildcats and are 33-8 all time against Arizona. This is also at home for USC, where they are undefeated this season. Arizona is coming off getting blasted by Washington in the second half last week. An Arizona win would be huge for Utah, but it is not likely to happen.