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Bowl projections: How much did the Utes’ win over Oregon help Utah and BYU’s New Year’s Six hopes?

Utah Utes running back Tavion Thomas celebrates after scoring a touchdown.
Utah Utes running back Tavion Thomas (9) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Oregon in a Pac-12 football game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

When the latest College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday night, both Utah and BYU moved up — the Utes up four spots to No. 19 and the Cougars up one to No. 13.

Between the newest CFP rankings and the latest bowl projections, it’s clear that the Utes’ latest win — over then-No. 3 Oregon, which dropped to No. 11 — helped both Utah and BYU, particularly the Utes.

With such a dominant win over the Ducks, most bowl prognosticators (9 of 11 used for this article) see Utah as the favorite now to earn the Pac-12’s spot in the Rose Bowl.

The Utes locked up the Pac-12 South crown with the win and could earn their first trip to the Rose Bowl when they play in the Pac-12 championship on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas.

The consensus opponent for Utah in the Rose Bowl is Michigan, an opponent the Utes have some recent history with.

Utah beat the Wolverines in back-to-back matchups in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

“Utah replaces Oregon in our New Year’s Six projection this week since Saturday’s 31-point win over the Ducks is likely the first of two this season against Mario Cristobal’s team,” 247 Sports’ Brad Crawford wrote about his Rose Bowl projection of Utah vs. Michigan.

“How could the selection committee put a potentially three-loss Ducks team in the New Year’s Six that may end up floundering down the stretch? They won’t. Michigan gets the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten’s second-best team if the Wolverines lost to Ohio State next week.”

Last weekend’s results — including Utah beating Oregon and Ohio State blowing out Michigan State — helped BYU in its quest to make a New Year’s Six bowl, even if it’s minimally.

Cincinnati jumping to No. 4 and currently in a spot to make the playoff also helps BYU, opening up an at-large NY6 spot.

Now, the Ducks and Spartans sit just in front of the Cougars in the CFP rankings, opening up a slim possibility for BYU to slide into one of the at-large NY6 spots.

First and foremost, though, the Cougars have to win against USC this weekend, then hope for the best results around them.

BYU is a slight favorite to beat the 4-6 Trojans and improve to 6-1 against Power Five opponents this year.

Two bowl prognosticators actually predict BYU to make a NY6 game now against the same opponent, Notre Dame, though one is set in the Peach Bowl and the other in the Fiesta Bowl.

“If they’re able to win at USC this Saturday, there’s a good chance they get the final NY6 spot,” Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller, who released his latest bowl projections after the CFP rankings came out, said of BYU.

“Because whether it’s Oregon or Utah and whether it’s Pitt or Wake Forest, both the ACC and Pac-12 will almost certainly max out at one team each. Even with independent Notre Dame also comfortably ahead of BYU, it seems more likely that the Cougars will claim a spot rather than either the Big Ten or the Big 12 getting three teams in.”


Utah Utes

(8-3, 7-1 in Pac-12)

The Utes clinched the Pac-12 South and now await the Pac-12 North winner in the league championship game, with Oregon, Oregon State and Washington State all in contention.

In the two projections where the Utes were not predicted to make a Rose Bowl, they’re headed to the Alamo Bowl to face a Big 12 opponent.


BYU Cougars

(9-2)

BYU’s best-chance possibility is to land in the Independence Bowl and play against UTSA.

The No. 22 Roadrunners remained undefeated by beating UAB in a tight game, clinching the Conference USA West Division in the process.


Utah State Aggies

(8-3, 5-2 in Mountain West)

Despite the Aggies losing last week and having the race for the Mountain West’s Mountain Division out of their hands, their postseason projections didn’t take a huge hit.

Hawaii and Arizona remain popular destinations for Utah State in the postseason, with teams such as UCF and Memphis among the most attractive potential opponents.