With the regular season wrapping up in the next few weeks, there are a lot of things at stake — especially in the conference races — for college football teams around the state of Utah.
Here is what’s on tap for the local teams this weekend, and what other league games fans should be keeping an eye on:
- UCLA (2-7, 2-4 Pac-12) at Arizona State (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12), Saturday, noon MDT (Pac-12 Networks)
With its 38-20 win over Utah last week, the Sun Devils control their own destiny in winning the Pac-12 South. If they win their final three league games, they’ll represent the South in the league championship game. UCLA is the first of those three opponents, and the Bruins themselves, despite a 2-4 Pac-12 record, are still mathematically alive in the wild Pac-12 South race. After facing UCLA, Arizona State — which holds head-to-head tiebreakers over USC and Utah by virtue of its wins over those two in the past two weeks — travels to Oregon and Arizona to end the year.
- Oregon (6-3, 3-3 Pac-12) at Utah (6-3, 4-3 Pac-12), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Just last week, the Utes looked to have the Pac-12 South firmly in their grasp, until a four-game winning streak was snapped in a loss at Arizona State and a pair of key offensive injuries hampered outlooks on that side of the ball.
Utah still has a chance to win the Pac-12 South, though, if they can get solid production from the replacements for injured quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss, as well as win their final two Pac-12 games against Oregon and Colorado. If that happens, there are a variety of scenarios that could play out in the crazy Pac-12 South, including a few that would land Utah in the conference championship game.
That being said, the Ducks provide a stiff challenge. Oregon is coming off a 42-21 win over UCLA, after a two-game losing streak, and is led on offense by Justin Herbert. The junior quarterback has thrown for 2,333 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions this year. Oregon is averaging 37.2 points per game this year, while Utah is giving up just 19.1 ppg.
- California (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) at USC (5-4, 4-3 Pac-12), Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Despite losses to both Utah and Arizona State, USC still has a solid chance to capture the Pac-12 South. The Trojans have the easiest schedule of the three in league play to end the season, including Cal on Saturday and at UCLA on Nov. 17. USC, which is currently tied with Utah and Arizona for the Pac-12 South lead, still needs help, though, to capture the South.
Mountain West Conference
- Fresno State (8-1, 5-0 MWC) at Boise State (7-2, 4-1 MWC), Friday, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Bulldogs are ranked No. 23 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and enter the game on a seven-game winning streak. Boise State, winner of four straight, is trying to stay within a game of Utah State in the MW Mountain Division. This game has plenty of implications on how both the Mountain and West divisions will shake out. Utah State’s most simple road to hosting the MW championship game, at this point, may be for Boise State to beat Fresno State, then the Aggies to win out, including in the regular-season finale in Boise. At that point, USU would hold the highest winning percentage in conference play, its edge over whoever wins the West Division.
- San Jose State (1-8, 1-4 MWC) at Utah State (8-1, 5-0 MWC), Saturday, 2 p.m. (Facebook)
The Aggies will be expected to roll on Senior Day in what, on paper, is one of their most lopsided matchups of the season.
The Spartans picked up their lone win over UNLV two weeks ago, but other than that, they have generally been on the wrong end of blowouts this season. San Jose State has played close against a pair of leading MW West Division foes this year, losing to both San Diego State and Hawaii by just a field goal, giving the Spartans their best spark of hope against Utah State.
The Aggies, winners of eight straight, have only had one close game since the start of October, and it was on the road at Wyoming. With Jordan Love, recently named a Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist, leading the way on offense and the USU defense continuing to disrupt its opposition, the Aggies should cruise to another league win and stay atop the MW Mountain Division.
- UNLV (2-7, 0-5 MWC) at San Diego State (7-2, 4-1 MWC), Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Aztecs trail Fresno State by a game in the MW West Division, and this game would appear to keep them within striking distance of the Bulldogs. UNLV is the only team in the MW without a league victory. A San Diego State win this week would set up a matchup at Fresno State on Nov. 17 where the winner takes the division edge with one week left in the regular season.
- Colorado State (3-6, 2-3 MWC) at Nevada (5-4, 3-2 MWC), Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
With back-to-back wins over Hawaii and San Diego State, the Wolf Pack holds a slim hope of being able to tie for the West Division title. Nevada plays three of the worst teams in the MW to end the season, including Colorado State, San Jose State and UNLV, while both Fresno State and San Diego State play tougher opponents down the stretch.
- BYU (4-5) at Massachusetts (4-6), Saturday, 10 a.m. (BYUtv)
The Cougars head to Gillette Stadium reeling, coming off a 21-16 loss at Boise State and losers of four of their past five games. UMass, meanwhile, is on a two-game winning streak, albeit against a pair of teams — Liberty and UConn — with a combined five victories this season.
Both BYU and UMass are fighting for bowl eligibility. The Cougars have the easier route if they can get past the Minutemen on Saturday; next week, BYU hosts 3-7 New Mexico State in its home finale.
A big key for the Cougars will be if their offense, which has struggled the past two weeks, can put up points against a porous UMass defense. The Minutemen are giving up 41.4 points per game, the fifth-worst scoring defense in the country.
Big Sky Conference
- UC Davis (8-1, 6-0 Big Sky) at Eastern Washington (7-2, 5-1 Big Sky), Saturday, 2 p.m.
UC Davis is enjoying a banner year, with its highest ranking ever at No. 4 in the latest STATS FCS poll. The Aggies, winners of six straight, are the only Big Sky team undefeated in league play. Eastern Washington, No. 5 in the STATS poll, is one of three teams with one loss in conference play, along with Weber State and Idaho State. If the Eagles win at home, there’s likely to be a split Big Sky championship, giving the Wildcats a chance to earn their share of the title. If UC Davis wins, the Aggies would retain a one-game edge with only a game against Sacramento State, last in the league standings, remaining on their schedule.
- Weber State (7-2, 5-1 Big Sky) at Southern Utah (1-8, 1-5, Big Sky), Saturday, 5 p.m. (Eleven Sports Network)
Last year, Southern Utah and Weber State shared the Big Sky championship and the in-state rivals split their 2017 meetings: the T’Birds won the regular-season game in Ogden, while the Wildcats beat SUU in the second round of the FCS playoffs. This year, the Wildcats are the clear favorite when the two meet up.
Weber State is playing for a top eight seed in the FCS playoffs — SUU received one last year — and a first-round NCAA bye. The Wildcats were ranked No. 4 in the FCS committee’s top 10 rankings that were released Nov. 1. That was before James Madison, which was No. 2, lost last weekend to New Hampshire.
Last year, the Wildcats won in the first and second rounds of the playoffs before falling late to James Madison in the quarterfinals. A high FCS playoff seed would mean staying in Ogden for much of the postseason, since the tournament is played at campus sites (highest seed hosts) through the semifinals. The national championship game is set for Jan. 6, 2019 in Frisco, Texas.
Southern Utah is facing a tall task against the Wildcats after a tough season. The T’Birds picked up their lone win against Sacramento State in mid-October but are on a three-game losing streak. After making the FCS playoffs two of the previous three years, it’s been a tough year in Cedar City.
- Idaho State (6-3, 5-1 Big Sky) at Cal Poly (3-6, 2-4 Big Sky), Saturday, 5 p.m.
The Bengals jumped into the rankings last week at No. 24 in the STATS poll and No. 25 in the FCS Coaches Poll. It’s their first time being ranked since 2015. If Idaho State and Weber State take care of business this weekend, it sets up a final-week matchup between the Bengals and Wildcats in Pocatello between two teams with just one Big Sky loss.
Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
- Dixie State (6-4, 6-3 RMAC) at Adams State (4-6, 4-5 RMAC), Saturday, 1 p.m.
Dixie State is coming off its first win over a top 10 opponent, as the Trailblazers knocked off then-No. 6 Colorado School of Mines 52-45. That snapped a two-game losing skid for Dixie State and helped right the ship on a season that started out 4-1 for the Trailblazers.
Dixie State will have the chance for a top four finish in the RMAC in its season finale against Adams State. The Grizzlies, who enter the contest on a four-game losing streak, are averaging 40.3 point per game but they also give up a nation's worst 51.9 ppg.
Western States Football League
- Snow College (8-1, 5-1 WSFL) at Eastern Arizona College (8-2, 5-1 WSFL), Saturday, 7 p.m.
The Badgers and Gila Monsters, tied atop the league standings, will battle for the WSFL championship in the final week of the regular season. Snow College climbed three spots to No. 5 in the junior college national rankings after a dominant 64-17 win over then-No. 11 Pima Community College last week.4 comments on this story
The Badgers enter the game on a five-game winning streak and with one of the nation’s top junior college running backs. Jaylen Warren leads the JC ranks by averaging 161.8 rushing yards per game — he is second nationally with 1,294 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns — and was named the NJCAA Football Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 156 yards and four touchdowns against Pima.
Up next is now-No. 11 Eastern Arizona, whose one loss this season was a two-point game against Pima two weeks ago.