As college football’s regular season enters its final weekend, the scenarios for teams winning division or conference championships and earning certain bowl bids are starting to come into clearer focus, although there is still plenty to play for.
The Utah Utes, for example, have clinched the Pac-12 South division and will play in the conference championship game on Dec. 3, but of the six teams in the Pac-12 North, three are still in contention to play the Utes in that game.
Utah State, meanwhile, is still very much in contention to represent the Mountain division of the Mountain West Conference in its championship game on Dec. 4, but the Aggies’ fate is out of their hands and will be determined by the results of other games.
BYU’s chances of getting an at-large bid in a New Year’s Six bowl are dwindling, although perhaps there’s still hope if everything breaks exactly right this weekend and in various conference championship games.
Here’s a breakdown of who fans of these programs should be cheering for this weekend for best possible bowl outcomes, and how these games could influence the three teams.
Does BYU have any shot at making a New Year’s Six bowl?
As stated above, the chances of this happening at this point appear to be very slim. The Cougars are No. 13 in the College Football Playoff rankings and most likely have no chance at a bid unless they can get into the top 10 (even then it is not necessarily guaranteed).
Nevertheless, here’s what needs to happen this week for those hopes to stay alive.
- BYU needs to beat USC on the road Saturday. That one should be obvious. Lose, and all hopes of an NY6 berth are absolutely gone.
- Cougar fans should be rooting for the following results:
— No. 7 Oklahoma State beats No. 10 Oklahoma: The thinking here is that Oklahoma State wouldn’t drop down far enough in the rankings to affect BYU, but Oklahoma could drop even though Oklahoma State is ranked higher.
— Texas Tech beats No. 8 Baylor: This one is iffy, as it’s possible Baylor is ahead of BYU to the point that the Cougars actually want the Bears to succeed as much as possible. This could be especially true given the fact that Baylor beat BYU during the season. That said, a Bears loss would give them three on the season. How highly could they be ranked if that were the case?
— Mississippi State beats No. 9 Ole Miss: The Cougars want as many upsets as possible to happen among the teams that are just ahead of them in the rankings.
— Oregon State beats No. 11 Oregon: Same reasoning as above.
— Penn State beats No. 12 Michigan State: Same reasoning as above. In addition, the fact that Michigan State is in the Big Ten matters. Right now, the Spartans are the third-highest ranked team from that conference behind No. 2 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan (who play each other on Saturday). How many teams from the Big Ten could make the most prestigious bowls (the same question could be asked of the Big 12, which currently has three teams in the top 10)?
— Minnesota beats No. 14 Wisconsin: We just talked about how many good teams the Big Ten has and here’s another one, but the Cougars surely don’t want a team from a Power Five conference jumping them. A Minnesota win over Wisconsin would prevent that.
Who do the 19th-ranked Utes want to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game?
Your answer to the above question will determine who in the Pac-12 North you will be rooting for this weekend.
The 11th-ranked Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers and Washington State Cougars all enter the weekend in contention to win the North, although only the Ducks control their own destiny.
Here are the scenarios for how each of the three teams can win the North, as we previously outlined:
- Oregon will win the North if it beats Oregon State on Saturday at home.
- Oregon State will win it if Washington beats Washington State on Friday and then the Beavers beat Oregon on Saturday.
- Washington State will win it if it beats Washington and Oregon State beats Oregon.
Utah State Aggies
How can the Aggies win the Mountain West’s Mountain division?
There are lots of scenarios still in play for which two teams will play in the Mountain West championship game, but there are only two outcomes that will determine if the Aggies will be one of those teams, as we outlined here.
First, Utah State needs No. 21 San Diego State to beat Boise State at home on Friday morning. If Boise State wins, Utah State will not win the Mountain division, regardless of what else happens.
If San Diego State wins, the Aggies then still need to beat 3-8 New Mexico. If that also happens, Utah State wins the Mountain division.
The San Diego State-Boise State game is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. MT on Friday and the Utah State-New Mexico game is scheduled to start at 11, meaning the Aggies should know if the result of their game will matter before it ends.