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Previewing Utah’s Possible Bowl Destinations

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Ohio State vs Washington Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

​With eight wins under their belt, the Utes are not only bowl eligible, but with a #8 ranking in the initial College Football Playoff poll, but seriously competing for a spot in the playoffs, and as the season inches closer to an end, we’re finally getting a clear picture of Utah’s possible landing spots in the post season.

Rose Bowl – Pasadena, California – January 1st

​Being the PAC-12 South frontrunner, if Utah wins out, including a victory in the PAC-12 championship game, the Rose Bowl is the bare minimum landing spot for the Utes, but thanks to Oregon’s similar positioning in the first CFP poll of 2019, there are multiple paths Utah could take to end up in Pasadena on New Years Day. If both Utah and Oregon run the table through their remaining regular season schedule, but Utah loses to the Ducks in the conference championship, it’s possible Oregon lands a spot in the playoffs, vacating their slot in The Granddaddy of Them All. This would inevitably move Utah into the PAC-12’s dedicated spot, despite not winning the conference.

Fiesta Bowl – Glendale, Arizona OR Peach Bowl – Atlanta Georgia – December 28th

​ As the #8 team in the nation, there’s still plenty of time and opportunities for Utah to claim a top four ranking, sealing their spot in the playoffs. In order for this to happen, the Utes will likely need to win out, including a victory in the conference championship, but even that much isn’t enough to guarantee Utah a final four ranking. With the likes of Ohio State, LSU, Alabama, Penn State, Clemson and Georgia all ranked ahead of the Utes, there will need to be a fair amount of drama in the final month of season to help Utah’s case.

Cotton Bowl Classic – Arlington, Texas – December 28th

​Utah’s favorable ranking in the CFP has opened the door to a possible Cotton Bowl bid, slotting an at-large Power Five opponent against the highest ranked Group of Five team in the nation. In order for this to happen, the PAC-12 would be omitted from the playoffs, with Oregon taking the conference’s slot in the Rose Bowl and the Utes maintaining a favorable ranking in the final CFP poll. While playing a G5 program and seeing the conference shut out of the playoffs yet again is far from ideal, it’s a respectable consolation prize that would give the Utes a healthy dose of national exposure inside the fertile recruiting grounds of Texas.

Alamo Bowl – San Antonio, Texas – December 31st

​With four of the six New Years bowls potentially on the table for the Utes, an Alamo Bowl bid would be disappointing to most fans, however it’s still a possible landing spot if the last month of the season ends in disaster. For this option to play out, Utah would need to lose one or more of their final regular season games, and either eliminate themselves from the conference championship, or lose to Oregon while carrying more than one conference loss. This matchup would pit the Utes against a top-tier Big 12 opponent, with Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State all viable options as we close in on the final month of the season.

Holiday Bowl – San Diego, California – December 27th

​The good news for Utah fans; even if the season ends in utter chaos and disappointment, the Holiday Bowl appears to be the lowest possible landing spot for Utes. At this point, UCLA controls their own destiny in the South, meaning if they win out and beat Utah, they will have punched their ticket to the PAC-12 Championship. In this nightmare scenario, Utah would have to lose out, likely giving either UCLA or USC the South division title, dropping the Utes to third in the division standings. Assuming Oregon is slotted in Rose Bowl, the winner of the South would likely be awarded the Alamo Bowl, leaving Utah facing off against either Indiana, Michigan, Iowa or, at worst, Illinois.

​Of the six bowl games Utah could land in, four of those options are New Years Six games, with the remaining two options carrying payouts over $3 million, meaning no matter how the cookie crumbles, the Utes are in for a decent payday at the conclusion of the 2019 season.