While the 2013 season has brought plenty of highs and lows already for BYU, Utah and Utah State, the end of the regular season is lining up to be perhaps more exciting.
The Cougars, Utes and Aggies all have opportunities to determine how their 2013 college football seasons will be viewed by outsiders during the month of November.
BYU is riding a five-game winning streak, and with games against national powers Wisconsin and Notre Dame on the horizon, the Cougars could find themselves ranked among the country's elite if they win out.
Utah is sitting at .500, needing two victories to get back in the bowling business. While Arizona State and Oregon loom, there are winnable games against Washington State and Colorado that could put the Utes back in the postseason.
Utah State, meanwhile, is 4-4 like the Utes. Despite losing starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton, among others, for the season due to injuries, the Aggies still can make a strong run to finish their first year in the Mountain West Conference. If Boise State were to falter and USU wins out, the Aggies would find themselves in the league's championship game.
With that in mind, here's a look at the remaining opponents for BYU, Utah and Utah State, with a look at the bowl possibilities for the three local teams:
How their season has gone: The Badgers sit at 5-2 on the season with just nine points separating them from a 7-0 record. Wisconsin’s first loss came on the road against Arizona State, and the referees allowed the clock to run out on Wisconsin as it tried to line up a game-winning field goal.
The second loss was a hard-fought battle at the Horseshoe against No. 4 Ohio State. The five teams Wisconsin has beaten have a combined 12-27 record.
Still, former Utah State head coach Gary Andersen is off to a great start coaching the Badgers. Gordon has been a pleasant surprise with more than 1,000 yards rushing already on the season.
How their season has gone: Idaho State has three wins for the first time since 2007. The Bengals actually started the season 2-0 against Division II foes Dixie State and Western State.
Then, Idaho State lost 56-0 against Washington. The Bengals have some tough close losses against conference rivals North Dakota (28-25) and Northern Arizona (39-30). However, it beat Northern Colorado 40-26 to notch its first conference win since its 50-20 win over that same team in 2011 before losing to Southern Utah 19-9 last week.
While a three-win season isn’t good, it’s an improvement over where the Bengals have been recently.
How their season has gone: While 2013 is clearly a step back from last year’s run to the BCS National Championship Game, the Irish have a 6-2 record and have an outside chance of making it into a BCS bowl. Notre Dame’s two losses came against Michigan and Oklahoma, both of which are ranked teams.
Also, the Fighting Irish have quality wins against No. 22 Michigan State and No. 27 Arizona State. That’s why Notre Dame sits at No. 25 in the BCS rankings.
All of this is impressive considering that the Irish lost LB Manti Te’o, QB Golson, RB Theo Riddick and TE Tyler Eifert, all leaders from last season.
How their season has gone: Nevada clearly isn’t the same without head coach Chris Ault. After a 3-5 start, the Wolf Pack are in danger of missing a bowl game for the first time since 2004.
Nevada’s only two wins over FBS teams are Hawaii and Air Force, and those two teams have just one win between them. The Wolf Pack lost by a combined score of 120-27 against UCLA and Florida State. Furthermore, Nevada lost a 51-44 overtime heartbreaker at San Diego State.
Worst of all, Nevada lost to UNLV for the first time since 2004. Clearly, head coach Brian Polian has a long way to go to live up to his predecessor.
The Cougars have already accepted an invite to the Fight Hunger Bowl, where they will face a Pac-12 opponent.
The Fight Hunger Bowl is expected to receive the sixth pick from the Pac-12. Here's a look at the teams who currently sit between the third and eight spots, in terms of overall record, in the league's standings:
Arizona State (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12 South)
UCLA (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12 South)
Arizona (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12 South)
USC (5-3, 2-2 Pac-12 South)
Washington (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12 North)
Is a BCS bowl a possibility? It's not likely for the Cougars this season, for two reasons.
First, BYU's loss to Virginia in the season opener is turning out to be a bad loss, as the Cavaliers have just two wins. Their victory over BYU is Virginia's lone win against an FBS opponent.
Second, the Cougars have a pair teams in front of them in the BCS standings who are better in line for a mid-major BCS bowl slot. BYU is currently ranked No. 28, while Fresno State (No. 16) and Northern Illinois (No. 17) are above the Cougars.
Here's a look at what various national media currently predict for BYU's postseason fate:
USA Today — Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. USC
National Football Post — Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. Oregon State
Phil Steele — Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. Washington
ESPN's Mark Schlabach — Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. Arizona
ESPN's Brad Edwards — Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. USC
CBS Sports — Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. Oregon State
Orlando Sentinel — Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. Washington
How their season has gone: Despite a Pac-12 opening loss to Stanford, Arizona State is sitting pretty atop the league's South Division at 4-1 after their Halloween-night rout of Washington State.
The Sun Devils have two of the most memorable moments of the 2013 season. Their 32-30 win over Wisconsin is shrouded in controversy after the officials allowed the clock to run out before the Badgers could try a game-winning field goal. And ASU's 62-41 win over USC lead to Lane Kiffin's firing.
With a strong start to conference play and with only one future opponent currently ranked, the Sun Devils have placed themselves in a good spot to win the Pac-12 South.
How their season has gone: Oregon has easily cruised to its undefeated record, scoring at least 42 points in every game this season.
The Ducks easily tore through non-conference play, the closest contest being a 59-14 victory over SEC foe Tennessee. Oregon has won its first five conference games, including a pair of victories over ranked opponents (Washington, 45-24; UCLA, 42-14).
The final major hurdle for the Ducks to an undefeated season and a potential national-title game berth is its next opponent. Oregon plays at No. 5 Stanford on Nov. 7.
How their season has gone: Washington State got off to a strong start in 2013, matching its wins from last season — three — during the first month.
The Cougars' non-conference play included outscoring a pair of overmatched opponents, Southern Utah and Idaho, by a combined score of 90-10. That came after Washington State stunned USC in Week 2. Since the 3-1 start, though, the Cougars have struggled, losing four of five Pac-12 games while giving up an average of 49.2 points per game during this stretch.
While the Cougars have rebounded nicely from a tough 2012 season, a bowl-eligible season could hinge on a victory over the Utes in late November.
How their season has gone: Colorado has won the games it was supposed to win and lost the games it was supposed to lose, leading to the 3-4 record.
The Buffaloes went 3-0 in non-conference play, though that included victories over FCS opponents Central Arkansas — a closer-than-expected 38-24 finish — and Charleston Southern. Colorado's home game against Fresno State was postponed because of flooding in the state.
During Pac-12 play, the Buffaloes have not been competitive, with their closest loss a 24-point home defeat against Arizona.
The Utes need two wins to become bowl eligible. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 20-10, including No. 2 Oregon at 8-0.
The Pac-12 has agreements with seven bowls: the New Mexico, Las Vegas, Fight Hunger, Alamo, Holiday and Sun bowls, plus one guaranteed BCS bowl berth.
Here's a look at what various national media currently predict for Utah's bowl fate:
ESPN's Mark Schlabach — Poinsettia Bowl: Utah vs. San Jose State
Six others — ESPN's Brad Edwards, USA Today, National Football Post, Phil Steele, CBS Sports and the Orlando Sentinel — did not predict the Utes will make a bowl game.
How their season has gone: It's been a long season already for Hawaii, and it's barely halfway over.
Following a pair of losses to Pac-12 opponents USC and Oregon State, the Rainbow Warriors began MWC play. While Hawaii has lost three league games by one touchdown or less — including a 42-37 loss to then-No. 25 Fresno State — it has yet to translate any of that close play into a victory this season.
The Rainbow Warriors will only have two of their final five games in Hawaii, traveling to Utah State, Navy and Wyoming.
How their season has gone: The Rebels have bounced back from a slow start, winning five of their past six games.
UNLV's resurgence began with a 31-21 win over Central Michigan, followed by a victory FCS opponent Western Illinois. During league play, the Rebels have moved to the top of the MWC West standings with three wins, including close victories over Hawaii (39-37) and Nevada (27-22).
The Rebels need just one win to reach bowl eligibility. Their two best chances come against 1-7 Air Force and 3-4 San Diego State.
How their season has gone: While consistency has been an issue for Colorado State thus far this season, the team is on an upswing.
The Rams fell to 0-2 behind losses to rival Colorado and 2-5 Tulsa. Following a victory over FCS foe Cal Poly and a 31-6 defeat against No. 1 Alabama, Colorado State has bounced back with three wins in the past month. That includes MWC wins over Wyoming and Hawaii.
Colorado State's path to bowl eligibility includes games against three teams with losing records: 3-5 Nevada, 2-5 New Mexico and 1-7 Air Force.
How their season has gone: A once-promising season is turning sour for the Cowboys.
Wyoming hung tough with Nebraska in the season opener before losing 37-34. The Cowboys then rolled to three straight wins — over Idaho, FCS foe Northern Colorado and Air Force. The past month, though, Wyoming has lost to Texas State, Colorado State and San Jose State.
It's a tough road ahead for the Cowboys to reach the bowl-eligible required six wins. Only one team, winless Hawaii, has a losing record, and Fresno State, Boise State and Utah State are all near the top of the MWC standings.
The Aggies need two wins to become bowl eligible. The combined record of their remaining opponents is 13-18, including UNLV at 5-3.
The MWC has agreements with six bowls: the New Mexico, Las Vegas, Famous Idaho Potato, Hawaii, Poinsettia and Armed Forces bowls.
Here's a look at what various national media currently predict for Utah State's postseason fate:
USA Today — Armed Forces Bowl: Utah State vs. Navy
National Football Post — Las Vegas Bowl: Utah State vs. Arizona
Phil Steele — Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. Middle Tennessee
ESPN's Mark Schlabach — Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. Rice
ESPN's Brad Edwards — Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. Middle Tennessee
CBS Sports — Las Vegas Bowl: Utah State vs. Arizona
Orlando Sentinel — Hawaii Bowl: Utah State vs. Marshall