Rivalry week is upon us. Jam-packed with history, tradition, and good old-fashioned hate, anything and everything can happen when two old foes matchup on the gridiron to settle centuries old scores that will likely never be tempered; and fortunately for Utah, more than one rivalry matchup could help the Utes in their quest to clinch a spot in the College Football Playoff. Here’s the games fans should keep an eye on.
#1 Ohio State vs #13 Michigan 10:00 AM - FOX
Ohio State takes on their third top 15 opponent in five weeks when they travel to Michigan to face their heated rival Wolverines. At 9-2, Michigan isn’t in any position to leap frog the Utes, making an upset here beneficial for Utah, as it would add one more one-loss team into the mix. Ohio State is unlikely to drop out of the playoff race, even with a loss, however it could alter the seeding of the top four, especially if the Buckeyes struggle the following week in the Big 10 championship.
#3 Clemson vs South Carolina 10:00 AM - ESPN
“Clemsoning”, as defined by Urban Dictionary is “1: the act of failing miserably on a grand athletic stage, or when the stakes are high, or 2: record-setting failure, usually reserved for college football” and yet it’s been some time since the namesake team choked at such a grandiose level that the terms use has been warranted. That could change this weekend. The Tigers enter a -27.5 point favorite, and their SEC rival Gamecocks are a mere 4-7 on the season with no hopes of securing a bowl appearance. The defending national champions appear to be a lock for the CFP thanks to their undefeated record, however close games against Texas A&M and North Carolina, while tearing through an otherwise weak ACC schedule, have suggested is indeed susceptible this season, and lets not forget that one of South Carolina’s only wins this year came at home against the currently fourth ranked Georgia Bulldogs. If there was ever a time for Clemson to start “Clemsoning” again, this is the weekend for it to happen. A loss here, considering just how bad the ACC has been this season, would only help Utah’s case for a top four spot.
#5 Alabama vs #15 Auburn 1:30 PM - CBS
A one-loss Alabama team who didn’t play in the SEC title game has made the CFP before, and with a fifth place ranking currently, Utah needs Alabama to drop one more game to offer some sense of security. Auburn is only a +3 point home underdog, but fans still don’t know what to expect from a Tua-less Alabama offense, especially when up against a good-but-not-great Auburn defense. If Auburn can take care of business, Utah’s biggest worry comes by way of Georgia upsetting LSU in the SEC championship, which would likely leave two SEC teams in the top four, potentially blocking the Utes out of contention.