Utah Utes football: Improbable, but Utes still have shot at Pac-12 title game

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 15 2011 8:26 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — What seemed like an impossibility a month ago, is a possibility today, even if it is a remote possibility at best.

We're talking about the Utah football team's chances of getting into the first-ever Pac-12 title game Dec. 3 as the South Division representative, most likely against No. 4-ranked Oregon.

At 3-4 in the Pac-12, the Utes have a chance to finish at 5-4 with wins at Washington State Saturday and at home against Colorado next week.

Despite losing two in a row, to UCLA and Washington State, Arizona State still remains in the driver's seat with a 4-3 mark. UCLA also has a 4-3 mark in league play. USC, at 5-2 will likely win the division title, but is not eligible for the Pac-12 championship because it is on NCAA probation.

So how can Utah earn a berth in the Pac-12 championship?

The clearest way is if the Utes win their final two games and both Arizona State and UCLA lose their final two games. UCLA plays Colorado this week and USC the following week, while ASU plays Arizona and Cal, both at home.

They also would go to the title game if the Sun Devils lose both games and UCLA wins one of two and ties Utah at 5-4 because the Utes beat the Bruins head-to-head.

However if ASU wins just one of its final two games, they will go to the title game ahead of Utah because they hold the tiebreaker in the records within the division and because of the win over Utah.

Coach Kyle Whittingham isn't losing any sleep thinking about it, continuing the usual one-game-at-a-time mantra, saying, "It's all about Wazzu."

Some of the players are aware of the possibilities but aren't counting on it happening.

"It's one of those things that's out there, but all we can do is control what we can do, and right now, that's Washington State," said Bergstrom. "If all the cards fall right, then great, we'll take it and be happy with it. Otherwise we'll take care of what we can take care of."

"That would definitely be fun, but at the end of the day we have to do what we've got to do," said Conroy Black. "If it plays out, we'll be happy about it."

UTE NOTES: The Utes have several players ranked in the top 50 in the nation. John White is No. 9 in rushing and tied for 28th in scoring with 8.40 points per game. Black is tied for 15th in interceptions, Coleman Petersen is tied for 18th in field goals, while Reggie Dunn is 29th in kickoff returns . . . Among the offensive linemen, Bergstrom has the best grade at 84 percent, followed closely by guard Sam Brenner at 83 percent . . . The last time the Utes and Cougars played was 2000 when WSU won 38-21 in Salt Lake. The year before, Utah won 27-7 in Pullman.

email: sor@desnews.com

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