Utah Football Knows Venue For Five Division Opponents, Questions Still Need To Be Answered

Sep 25, 2020, 1:36 PM
Demari Simpkins - Colorado - Utah...
Utah Utes wide receiver Demari Simpkins (3) returns a punt for a 66-yard touchdown during the second half of an NCAA football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. Courtesy of Deseret News.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Less than 24 hours after the Pac-12 announced the return of football on November 6, some questions have been answered.

Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan spoke with the media on Friday afternoon to answer many questions and what the current process is to get the season going without problems.

One of the questions was the schedule. The conference announced that each team will play a 7-game schedule. Five games will be against division opponents and one crossover game.

“I think it’s something that we have spent a great deal of time talking about,” Harlan said. “Where I came to on this matter is that we don’t know how many games we are going to get in. We may lose games along the way. The way it’s set up, there is no place to put the games. So, if we are playing a Pac-12 game and it so happens to be a crossover, they gotta count… The idea of us playing a crossover game and it not counting and the following week let’s say we play a south division opponent that we can’t play because of the virus, then we all of a sudden have two non-countable games.”

Many have criticized having the sixth game which is considered the “crossover game” count towards your conference record. Mainly due to one team drawing Oregon who is projected to win the conference facing a team in the south when another team in the south draws a “weaker” team in the north. Harlan is a part of that process and a lot of factors are going into the crossover games.

LIVE: UofU athletic director Mark Harlan speaks on return to Pac-12 football

LIVE: UofU athletic director Mark Harlan speaks on return to Pac-12 football

Posted by KSL Sports on Friday, September 25, 2020

“The process of choosing the crossover game is underway,” Harlan stated. “We are looking at that. We are also being very careful to not affect the 2021 season which has always been a tenant in all this. The availability of those particular crossover games to any institution can’t affect the home or away of ’21. So, that’s all being worked through.”

The seventh game will be a model similar to what the Big Ten is doing in their final week of the season.

For example, let’s go off of last year’s standings, the following matchups would take place for the seventh game.

  • North No. 1 Oregon vs. South No. 1 Utah (this would be the Pac-12 Championship game)
  • North No. 2 Oregon State vs. South No. 2 USC
  • North No. 3 California vs. South No. 3 UCLA
  • North No. 4 Washington vs. South No. 4 Arizona State
  • North No. 5 Washington State vs. South No. 5 Colorado
  • North No. 6 Stanford vs. South No. 6 Arizona

What We Do Know About The Schedule

We know five opponents that Utah will face in the shortened 2020 football season. We also know that the season will start either November 6 or 7. Five of the 7 games already know which venue the matchup will be played.

“What we do know is that we are going to play our south opponents,” said Harlan. “The home teams will be the same home teams that were previously scheduled to come in.”

The two home games against south opponents will be Arizona and USC. The Wildcats were originally scheduled to be played on November 7. USC was supposed to be the conference home-opener. Utah’s original schedule had four conference home games with north division opponents Washington and Oregon State on the slate.

The Utes also had five road games in conference play on the original schedule. Three of them will still be played on the road. The dates are to be determined but Utah will for sure travel to Colorado, UCLA and Arizona State. They also had road contests at California and Washington State on the original schedule. Utah was supposed to be at UCLA on October 29, Arizona State on November 21 and at Colorado in the regular season finale on November 28.

Since that gives Utah two home games and three road games, Harlan said the crossover game with a north division opponent will be at home to even the schedule.

Remaining Questions

Many questions still remain as the news is very new to the Pac-12 and Utah football fans (media too). Harlan noted that the schedule is still being finalized and will be released at some point next week likely.

The other question and it’s a big one: who will the crossover opponent be? We know it will be at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The options are Oregon, Stanford, Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and California.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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