There will be three college football games taking place on Saturday between teams that appeared in Tuesday evening’s College Football Playoff rankings.
One of those three games will be taking place at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The University of Utah, a 38-29 winner over Arizona on Saturday afternoon in Tucson, moved up one spot to No. 23 in the selection committee’s latest reveal with two weeks to go in the regular season. Oregon continued to move toward a spot in the four-team CFP, holding steady at No. 3 following a 38-24 victory over Washington State late Saturday night.
Tuesday night offered confirmation of what has been bandied about for the last month. Utah has taken control of the Pac-12 South and Oregon has control of the Pac-12 North. Saturday night’s game is of critical importance to both sides, but also for the Pac-12 as a whole.
For the Ducks (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12) to at least remain in legitimate contention for the Pac-12′s first CFP berth since 2016, they need to win three more games, a stretch that would include beating Utah on Saturday, then likely again in the Pac-12 championship game on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas. The Utes clinch the South with a win Saturday or an Arizona State loss to Oregon State. The Ducks clinch the North with a win Saturday or a Beavers loss to the Sun Devils.
Utah will close the regular season on Nov. 26 vs. Colorado at Rice-Eccles Stadium (2 p.m., FOX). Oregon still has to play Oregon State on Nov. 27 at Autzen Stadium.
The Utes are not in play for the CFP, but they are very much in play for the program’s first Rose Bowl, and there appears to be more than one way to get there.
If Utah wins the Pac-12 championship game, it will go to the Rose Bowl, as is customary for the Pac-12 champion. If Oregon wins out and gets to the College Football Playoff, the Rose Bowl would then take the highest-ranked Pac-12 team after the Ducks. That may wind up being Utah, even if the Utes are 8-5, but that scenario is not promised.
As a point of reference, when Washington went to the College Football Playoff in 2016, the fourth-ranked Huskies blew out No. 8 Colorado in the Pac-12 title game. The fallout from that was the Buffaloes going from 8 to 10 in the final CFP rankings. USC, the South’s second-place team, jumped from 11 to 9, thus getting the Rose Bowl nod over Colorado despite not playing in the Pac-12 title game.
BYU (8-2) remained at No. 14 coming out of a bye week. The Cougars are at Georgia Southern on Saturday, followed by the regular-season finale at USC.