As we enter the final month of the season and have the first CFP rankings to gaze upon, we now have a clearer picture of how the cards need to fall in order for Utah to sneak into the College Football Playoff at the end of the season, and week 11 promises to deliver the goods.
#4 Penn State vs #17 Minnesota Saturday 10:00 AM - ABC
The number of undefeated Big 10 teams is guaranteed to drop by the end of this weekend, as Penn State travels to Minnesota in a cross-division matchup that will either solidify the Nittany Lions as one of the nation’s elite teams or prove that the surprising Golden Gophers are more than just pretenders skating through an easy schedule. Utah fans should keep an eye on this game, as a Minnesota upset would help position the Utes for a higher ranking in the CFP while resting on their final bye week of the year.
#12 Baylor vs TCU Saturday 10:00 AM – FOX Sports 1
The committee clearly isn’t impressed with the Big 12 as a whole, ranking one loss Oklahoma below both Oregon and Utah in their first Top 25 of the season, while undefeated Baylor was slotted even lower, likely due to their soft strength of schedule and multiple close wins against lesser opponents. With the Bears the last undefeated team left in the Big 12, Utah (and the rest of the PAC-12 for that matter) should be rooting for a TCU upset, as an undefeated Big 12 champ could easily earn a playoff spot over any one-loss PAC-12 team at the end of the season. The Horned Frogs are just a +2.5 point underdog at home and need two more wins over their next four games to gain bowl eligibility, so expect Gary Patterson’s team to come out hungry and ready for an upset, already proving they can do so after knocking off then then #15 ranked Longhorns just two weeks earlier the last time they played in front of their home crowd.
#2 LSU vs #3 Alabama Saturday 1:30 PM - CBC
Every college football fan will surely have their eyes glued to the SEC West this weekend, as the surging LSU Tigers travel to the unfriendly confines of Tuscaloosa, Alabama to face the Crimson Tide. Not only does the winner control their own destiny in the SEC West, but they also more or less punch their ticket into the College Football Playoff. As if that wasn’t intriguing enough, star Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s status for Saturday’s matchup is unknown after the former Heisman candidate underwent surgery less than three weeks ago after suffering a high ankle sprain that left him sidelined against Arkansas two weeks ago (the Tide were on bye leading up to this week’s matchup). The end result of this game is unlikely to impact Utah’s position in the rankings; however it will give fans a clearer understanding of how the final four is poised to shape up.