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National Games to Watch: Week 9

Fresno State v San Diego State Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

You won’t find many teams with two losses, let alone three, in the top 25, meaning even with a victory this week, the Utes will have a hard time breaking into the national rankings, but the CFP is a different beast altogether and a solid performance could put them in good graces in the eyes of the committee members, who are poised to release their first round of rankings on November 7th. If Utah has any hope of finding a spot in those rankings, their non-conference losses will need to look really good, meaning the Utes will need considerable help from non-PAC 12 teams this week.

Florida State vs Clemson - Saturday 1:30 PM MT - ESPN

2021 has been a weird season, to say the least. Clemson, who was a pre-season favorite for another trip to the playoffs, is now struggling just to get bowl eligible. On the flip-side, not much was expected from Florida State, but a week one overtime loss to Notre Dame seemed to suggest the Seminoles were maybe a little better than what was expected. While those expectations have eased substantially, the ‘Noles are riding a three-game win streak and are taking on a Clemson team that is very much beatable. Utah fans should be hoping for a Florida State win because if there’s one 4-3 team the committee is likely to favor over the Utes, it's Clemson.

Virginia vs #25 BYU - Saturday 8:15 PM MT - ESPN2

Bronco Mendenhall returns to Provo for the first time since leaving the Cougars to pursue the greener pastures of a Power Five program with something to play for after suffering through independence for most of his tenure at the Y. His Cavaliers are 6-2, with losses to a good but not great North Carolina and the ACC’s surprise of the season, the undefeated Deamon Deacons of Wake Forest. Mendenhall will bring a passing attack that would make even LeVell Edwards himself green with envy, but the Utes need BYU’s secondary to be at their best to keep Utah’s loss from becoming an even bigger black mark as the season progresses.

Fresno State vs #21 San Diego State - Saturday 8:30 PM MT - CBS Sports Network

As fate would have it, the two most important games for Ute fans to follow just so happen to be shortly after their own game kicks off, but if you’re watching the game from home, take advantage of your picture-in-picture, and if you’re at the stadium, cross your fingers that your mobile internet device is able to find a signal so you can follow along, because Fresno State visits the undefeated Aztecs in what should be one of SDSU’s tougher tests of the season. The Utes need San Deigo to remain undefeated to bolster their strength of schedule, one of the components the CFP committee considers when they meet to compile their initial rankings next week.