No. 14 Utah enjoyed its bye last weekend.

And as far as coach Kyle Whittingham is concerned, this portion of the schedule couldn’t have been scripted any better. 

The Utes are fresh off a 43-42 victory over then-No. 7 USC and they were able to get rested, and healthier, heading into their next game Thursday (8 p.m. MDT, FS1) at Washington State.

Last week, Whittingham, his staff and the players met Monday to review film of the USC game then they took Tuesday and Wednesday off. 

Utah reconvened Thursday for the equivalent of a typical Monday practice.

Whittingham said Monday’s session this week was scheduled to be a “Wednesday/Thursday hybrid practice” in preparation for the game at WSU.

Washington State is also coming off a bye week. The Cougars lost 24-10 at Oregon State on Sept. 15.

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Whittingham likes the way things have lined up for his team, by making the most of the bye, plus having a couple of extra days to prepare for the next game on Nov. 5 at home against Arizona. 

“This is the ideal scenario,” he said. “Sometimes you can get a little bit stale (during) the full two weeks. If you were to map it out, and say how we wanted it to play out, I don’t think it could be any more beneficial than it is.”

The Utes (5-2, 3-1) find themselves in the middle of the Pac-12 race. Oregon remains unbeaten with a 4-0 conference record, followed by Utah, USC and UCLA, which have one league loss apiece. 

This season, there’s been a change in the championship game format. The league announced last summer that when it comes to determining a champion, divisions no longer matter. The Pac-12 championship game will feature the two teams with the highest conference winning percentage instead of two division winners. 

The reason behind it is to get the league’s two best team in the championship game in an attempt to give the Pac-12 the best opportunity to maximize College Football Playoff invitations. 

When asked Monday, Whittingham said that change doesn’t alter his perspective of the goal of returning to the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 2. 

“You’re just trying to win every week and that never changes, obviously, no matter the configuration of the league,” he said. “I’m not a math major but I would think having to be better than 10 of the schools rather than five of the schools to get to the championship game would make it a little bit more difficult but everyone’s in the same boat.

“The champion is going to be crowned by who wins the game in Las Vegas; not whether you go in there first or second. I don’t want to say it’s irrelevant but the Pac-12 champion will be determined in Las Vegas. You’ve just got to get yourself to that game.”


Utes on the air

No. 14 Utah (5-2, 3-1)

at Washington State (4-3, 1-3)

Thursday, 8 p.m. MDT

Gesa Field

TV: FS1

Radio: ESPN 700