Despite A Loss On Saturday, Utah Still Has A Path To The Pac-12 Championship

Nov 21, 2022, 3:20 PM
Cam Rising - Utah Utes - USC Trojans...
Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes passed during the first half of a college football game against the USC Trojans on October 9, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- If you’ve paid much attention to the Pac-12 you are probably well aware of how wacky the finishes are to determine who goes to the conference championship every year. 2022 is proving to be no exception. Utah was thought to be the top dog in the Pac-12 heading into the year, but it’s proven more difficult than initially believed by most. The Utes had a prime opportunity to lock up a spot last week against Oregon but fell short 20-17. USC has one spot open, but the other spot is still up for grabs and could be Utah’s if things play out right.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham talked about how the Utes are still mathematically in the race but emphasized none of the other “what ifs” matter if they don’t take care of business this week against Colorado.

“We have the chance to cap the season off with a pretty decent record if we take care of business,” Whittingham said. “And we have a chance- I don’t want to say backdoor because it won’t really be a backdoor, but we can get back into the championship game.”

How Utah Gets To The Pac-12 Championship

Sit down and pay attention, this will take a second. As mentioned before Utah’s dreams of going to the Pac-12 Championship Game are not completely dead after losing to Oregon believe it or not. Is it more complicated? Absolutely. However, it wouldn’t be the Pac-12 if it was easy and straight forward.

Here is how this coming Saturday needs to work. First and foremost, Utah needs to take care of business against Colorado. If Utah somehow doesn’t win this coming weekend, the rest of what happens doesn’t even matter.

Next, the Utes will be cheering for their best friends (this weekend) Washington, UCLA and Oregon State to win their games.

Washington will be in Pullman taking on Washington State for the Apple Cup. Both teams have had a pretty good year, but the Huskys feel like they have really rounded a corner to be back in the discussion as one of the better teams in the Pac-12. Wazzu is scrappy though, and as Utah witnessed, things can and do get weird on the Palouse.

UCLA will be traveling up north to Berkley to face Cal. The Golden Bears have struggled this year currently sitting a 4-7 but have put up a good fight or two. Perhaps their most impressive game was going toe-to-toe with USC at the Coliseum. UCLA on the other hand has looked very good despite what feels like the typical stumbles everyone in the Pac-12 has every year.

Oregon State’s big rivalry game with Oregon is probably the one that is most “up in the air”. The Ducks will be traveling to Corvallis- another Pac-12 venue that is known for having crazy things happen. The Beavers are much improved, though a little one-dimensional on offense, but their defense can absolutely play with anyone. Playing at home and having a tough defense could bode well for OSU against Oregon. Especially since the Duck’s offense appears to be a little banged up and not at full strength.

The When, Where To Keep Track Of

If you are interested in following all of these little nuances to Utah’s potential path back to the Pac-12 Championship game here is the when and where to watch.

UCLA’s game against Cal will happen first on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Their game kicks off at 2:30 pm MT on FOX.

Oregon and Oregon State will be next on Saturday with a kickoff set for 1:30 pm MT on ESPN.

The Utes will be playing Colorado on Saturday at 2:00 pm MT on the Pac-12 Networks.

Washington at Washington State will be the last game played on Saturday with kickoff set for 8:30 pm MT on ESPN.


Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports


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Despite A Loss On Saturday, Utah Still Has A Path To The Pac-12 Championship