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National Games to Watch: Week 8

Purdue v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Utes are back in the eyes of voters this week, landing in the “receiving votes” category in both the AP and Coaches polls, earning enough votes to earn a technical ranking of 27th, meaning a third straight win against a respectable Oregon State could keep Utah rising, but they’ll need some help from some out of conference games to crack the top 25.

Wisconsin vs #25 Purdue - Saturday 1:00 PM MT - Big 10 Network

Utah’s best chance to crack into the national rankings could be boosted with a Wisconsin victory this week. Purdue is hot off an upset win over former #2 Iowa, but the Badgers are just stubborn enough to make this as close to a 50/50 matchup as it gets. The 3-3 Badgers have yet to notch a quality win, but Vegas is giving Wisconsin the nod of confidence here with a -3.5 point spread. On the contrary, ESPN’s Football Power Index favors the 4-2 Boilermakers a 55.2% advantage. Ute fans should keep with tradition and cheer for the team in red and white.

#24 UTSA vs Louisiana Tech - Saturday 5:00 PM MT - Stadium

The undefeated Roadrunners head to Louisiana to take on the 2-4 Bulldogs but don’t let their respective records fool you; LA Tech is capable of pulling an upset to help make way for the Utes. UTSA’s average margin of victory is a healthy 19.42 points, but that is buoyed by blowout wins to 1-4 FCS Lamar and 2-4 Rice. Remove those wins, and that margin drops drastically down to 7.4. The Bulldogs have lost four games by an average of 6.5 points, including a 34-27 loss to then #23 NC State (who currently sit at #18, mind you). Vegas is giving UTSA the favorite at -6 points, suggesting the experts are pinning another close one down south. A Tech upset would deflate UTSA just enough to give Utah ample opportunity to sneak in.

#22 San Diego State vs Air Force - Saturday 5:00 PM MT - CBS Sports Network

If Utah hopes to keep their strength of schedule afloat, the Aztecs will need to keep their undefeated season alive, and a trip to Colorado Springs to take on the 6-1 Falcons. As always, Air Force’s offense is a powerful run-first unit, but San Diego leads the nation in run defense, making for a potentially interesting matchup, where the ranked team winning favors the Utes. Air Force is a -3 point favorite with FPI agreeing, giving the Falcons a 55.2% advantage, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Air Force can effectively navigate SDSU’s stingy defense.