The Utes aren’t even receiving votes at this point, and a potential win over a struggling USC likely won’t be enough to change that, but there are still some games to keep an eye on around the nation that could help get Utah back in the spotlight.
#6 Oklahoma vs #21 Texas - 10:00 AM MT - ABC
The Red River Showdown is one of college football’s greatest traditions, and the 2021 edition looks to be another all-time great. Oklahoma is narrowly undefeated with close wins against the likes of Tulane and Kansas State, suggesting the Sooners won’t stay undefeated as conference play ramps up. Meanwhile, the Longhorns’ lone loss to Arkansas is somehow looking better and better as the weeks progress. The PAC-12 as a whole would benefit from Texas getting the victory here to even the playoff field, but Ute fans shouldn’t feel guilty for hoping the Sooners pull this one out and knock Texas out of the top 25.
Boise State vs #10 BYU - 1:30 PM MT - ABC
Utah’s two losses came by two teams currently inside in the top 25, with BYU leading the way in the ten spot. A New Years' six bid is incredibly unlikely, but if the Utes have any chance of notching an at-large, BYU needs to win out, turning the Ute’s biggest blemish into a quality loss. It may be a hard pill to swallow for some, but BYU victories will only help Utah at this point.
New Mexico vs #25 San Diego State - 7:00 PM - FOX Sports 1
The same logic that supports rooting for BYU applies here. If Utah can run the table and go undefeated in PAC-12 play, a victory in the conference championship locks the Utes in for a Rose Bowl bid automatically, but a loss to the north division champ could still land a three-loss Utah team in either the Peach or Fiesta Bowl as long as the committee views the first two losses as quality. A San Diego State squad that claims a Mountain West championship at the end of the season would be hard to scoff at.