When did Utah become such a hotbed for college football teams?
BYU finished 10-2 with five narrow victories over PAC-12 teams Arizona, Utah, Arizona State, Washington State and Southern Cal.
They were able to defeat Utah for the first time in their last 10 meetings in the second game of the season before the Utes found the right quarterback after they lost to BYU and San Diego State. Otherwise, the Utes would have been close to running the table with a shot at the playoffs. An unusual setback at Oregon State was perplexing for the Utes.
Utah (9-3) seems destined to play in its first Rose Bowl game and win its first PAC-12 championship this Friday if it can beat the Oregon Ducks for the second time this year. ESPN matchup predictor has the Utes favored, especially after Utah limited the normally high-powered Ducks’ offense to one touchdown in a 38-7 thrashing at Rice Eccles. The game is set for Friday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas at 6 p.m. on ABC.
The Utes seem almost untouchable right now. We’ll see what happens.
Utah State Aggies (9-3) will also play in a championship game against San Diego State on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Fox. This matchup will determine the Mountain West Conference champions. In this one, however, the Aztecs are big favorites, according to ESPN matchup predictor.
The Aggies were a bit of a surprise this year with a huge win at Air Force Academy 49-45, and a narrow win at home over CSU. They also defeated Washington State on the road.
The Cougars are tied into the Independence Bowl, but Richard Johnson of Sports Illustrated has them playing Wake Forest in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 30. That seems like a longshot.
He also has Utah in the Rose Bowl Game against Iowa. He has Utah State replacing BYU in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 18 for a matchup with the University of Central Florida.
Sunday’s AP Top 25 had BYU at 12th, Utah 14th, and the Coaches Poll had Utah State at 32nd.
As for these would-be bowl opponents, Wake Forest is ranked 18th and plays Pittsburgh Saturday in the ACC Championship Game. Iowa is ranked 16th and plays No. 5 Michigan Saturday for the Big Ten Championship. Central Florida (8-4) is unranked.
The Sports Illustrated writer has Georgia vs. Michigan in the National Championship game on Jan. 10.
The semifinal games are the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl. Johnson has Michigan downing Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31, with Georgia defeating whomever they play in the Orange Bowl.