Utah’s football team has climbed into the top five of the AP Top 25 with eight straight wins after a loss at USC dropped the Utes to No. 19 in September.
The Pac-12 South champion Utes (11-1) are No. 5 in the poll published Sunday, moving up one spot via their 45-15 win over Colorado and Alabama’s 48-45 loss to Auburn. Oregon is No. 13; the Ducks are Utah’s opponent in Friday’s conference title game at Santa Clara, Calif.
The AP poll mostly has matched the College Football Playoff rankings, issued each Tuesday. Utah almost certainly will be No. 5 in this week’s CFP Top 25, with Oklahoma at No. 6. In the top 10 of the AP rankings, the gap between Utah and Oklahoma is the narrowest of any two teams.
Among the biggest questions for the coming weekend is whether Oklahoma could top Utah in the final CFP rankings by beating No. 8 Baylor in the Big 12 championship game — even if the Utes defeat Oregon.
The other requirement for Utah to move into the top four is to have the AP’s No. 1 LSU beat No. 4 Georgia in the Southeastern Conference title game in Atlanta. LSU was No. 2 in last week’s CFP rankings.
Utah’s No. 5 ranking in the first week of December matches the unbeaten 2004 team’s position. The 2008 Utes, also unbeaten, were No. 7 in early December. The Utes’ highest ranking of the Pac-12 era remains No. 3 in October 2015, prior to a loss at USC.
Utah also is No. 5 in the Coaches Poll.
NO. 6 UTAH VS. NO. 13 OREGON
Friday, 6 p.m. MST.
TV: Ch. 4.