No. 12 Utah right in the middle of the hotly contested Pac-12 race heading into November
Will quarterback Cam Rising be available this week against Arizona? And what about Dalton Kincaid?
A few days after a hardscrabble 21-17 victory at Washington State, Utah climbed two spots in the Associated Press poll Sunday to No. 12.
The Pac-12 now has five ranked teams, including three in the top 10, as the calendar is set to turn to November. The conference championship should be a thrilling race to the finish.
Oregon (7-1, 5-0) is No. 8; USC (7-1, 5-1) is No. 9; and UCLA (7-1, 4-1) is No. 10. Oregon State (6-2, 3-2) made its season debut at No. 24. It’s the first time the Beavers have been ranked since 2013.
On Tuesday, the season’s initial College Football Playoff rankings will be released.
Utah (6-2, 4-1) faces Oregon for a big showdown at Autzen Stadium on Nov. 19. That same day, USC and UCLA square off in Pasadena.
Before then, the Utes have back-to-back home games against Arizona Saturday (5:30 p.m., MST, Pac-12 Network) and against Stanford on Nov. 12.
With last week’s victory at WSU, Utah became bowl-eligible. But the Utes’ sights are on another Pac-12 championship. They will likely need to win out in November to qualify for the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 2.
As Utah gets set to host Arizona (3-5, 1-4), the obvious question is, will quarterback Cam Rising be ready to play?
Rising decided to sit out last Thursday’s game in Pullman.
“Just didn’t feel like he was right,” coach Kyle Whittingham explained after the game about Rising’s status. “It was Cam’s decision and we respect that. Bryson got put in a tough spot because he was not expecting to be the starter up until a half hour before the game.”
Whittingham said that he trusts Rising’s judgment.
“If Cam says he can’t play, he can’t play. There’s no questioning him whatsoever, no doubting him whatsoever. He’s the last guy that wants to miss a game.”
In Rising’s place, backup Bryson Barnes filled in well, completing 17 of 27 passes for 175 yards and one touchdown. He rushed eight times for 51 yards.
Barnes said if Rising is unavailable again this week, he will be ready to step in.
“You always talk about being prepared for when that time comes. This time, the time came. You’ve got to prepare every week as normal. This week was a little different because I had to step on the field and actually start,” he said.
“Definitely learning the mindset of things. You can always be prepared for the moment, but until that moment comes, you’re not going to know what it’s like. So being able to get that experience will definitely propel me forward.”
Meanwhile, tight end Dalton Kincaid suffered an injury while scoring a touchdown against WSU. His status is also uncertain.
Arizona lost 45-37 at home Saturday to USC. It was the Trojans’ first game since suffering their only loss of the season at Utah.
The Wildcats surrendered 621 yards of total offense to USC, which was led by quarterback Caleb Williams, who passed for a career-high 411 yards and five touchdowns.
Still, Arizona scored points in bunches as well. Quarterback Jayden de Laura threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns to Dorian Singer. The Wildcats scored one of those TDs with 1:26 remaining, cutting the deficit to eight points.
USC recovered the onside kick to preserve the win.
Last season, the Utes beat Arizona 38-29 in Tucson.
Arizona (3-5, 1-4) at No. 12 Utah (6-2, 4-1)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MDT
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: ESPN 700