Utah's path to the playoff is going to take wins and a lot help

What does Utah need to have happen to move up 8 or more spots in the college football playoff poll? We get in-depth to break it down.

With the second release of the college football playoff rankings on Tuesday, Utah was able to move up to the #10 spot. With a plethora of undefeated and one loss teams ahead of them, Utah needs some help to get in as even a 12-1 Pac 12 champ with a win over Stanford in the conference title game isn't a lock to make the playoff.

Here are the adjusted best case results for each team in the Pac 12 in terms of helping Utah:


Stanford- Beat Oregon, Cal, and Notre Dame (11-1, 9-0). Lose to Utah in Pac 12 title game (11-2, 9-1)

Oregon- Beat Oregon State. Lose to USC and Stanford (7-5, 5-4)

Washington State- Lose to Colorado, UCLA, and Washington (6-6, 4-5)

Washington- Beat Oregon State and Washington State. Lose to Arizona State. (6-6, 4-5)

Cal- Beat Oregon State. Lose to Arizona State, and Stanford (6-6, 3-6)

Oregon State- Lose to Cal, Washington, and Oregon (2-10, 0-9)


Utah- Beat Arizona, UCLA, and Colorado (11-1, 8-1) beat Stanford in Pac 12 title game (12-1, 9-1)

USC- Beat Oregon. Lose to Colorado and UCLA (9-3, 7-2) (UCLA beating USC is a change from last week)

UCLA- Beat Washington State and USC. Lose to Utah (9-3 6-3)

Arizona State- Beat Washington, and Cal. Lose to Arizona (6-6, 4-5)

Arizona- Beat Arizona State. Lose to Utah (6-6, 3-6)

Colorado- Beat USC and Washington State, Lose to Utah (6-7, 3-6) (Colorado beating USC and Washington State to get to 6 wins, and a possible bowl exemption, is a change from last week)

Non-Conference Opponents that Utah played in 2015

Michigan- Beat Indiana, Penn State, Ohio State (10-2, 7-1) with possible Big X Championship appearance

Utah State- Beat Air Force, Nevada, and BYU (8-4, 7-2) with possible MWC Championship appearance

Fresno State- Beat , Hawaii, BYU, Colorado State (5-7, 4-5)


12-1 Utah would have wins over 11-2 Stanford, 9-3 UCLA, and 7-5 Oregon as signature conference wins. Only loss is to 8-4 USC. The Pac 12 would send 10 teams bowling (possibly 11 if Colorado can get a waiver approved), boosting their conference appeal. Utah would also have non-conference wins over 9 to 11 win and possible Big X champ Michigan and a non-Conference win over 8 to 9 win and possible MWC champ Utah State. Utah would have wins over anywhere from 8 to 11 teams that are bowl eligible.

What Utah wants/needs to have happen nationally

1) Clemson (9-0) 1 loss. Most likely to North Carolina or Pitt in ACC Championship Game. Any loss probably elimindates Clemson.

2) Alabama (8-1) 1 more loss. Most likely to Mississippi State, or Florida in SEC title game. Any loss probably elimindates Alabama. 

3) Ohio State (9-0) Win out (including Big X title game) or lose to Michigan and Michigan State.

4) Notre Dame (8-1) 1 more loss. Most likely to Stanford. 1 more loss probably eliminates Notre Dame unless Clemson wins out and finishes #1 and Stanford wins out and finishes #2 or #3, which would eliminate Utah

5) Iowa (9-0) Win out and lose to Michigan in Big X Title Game. 1 loss elimnates Iowa.

6) Baylor (9-0) 1 loss. Mostly likely to Oklahoma, TCU, or Oklahoma State. Any loss likely allows Utah to jump Baylor, but Big 12 chaos and three 1 loss teams could cause a lot of trouble, and after what happened last season, the committee will almost certainyly make sure that a 1 loss Big 12 champ gets in, even if there are multiple teams with the same record.

7) Stanford (8-1) Win out. Lose to Utah in Pac 12 title game

8) Oklahoma State (9-0) 1 loss. Likely to Baylor or Oklahoma. 1 loss likely eliminates OSU as their non-conference was weak.

9) LSU (7-1) 1 loss. Likely to Ole Miss, or Florida in SEC title game. 

10) Utah (8-1) Win out. Win Pac 12 Title Game over Stanford.

11) Florida (8-1) 1 loss. Likely to Florida State or SEC title game. 1 loss eliminates Florida

12) Oklahoma (8-1) 1 loss. Like to Baylor, TCU, or Oklahoma State. Same Scenario as Baylor though. If Oklahoma runs the table, they will jump Utah and represent Big 12 in playoff. 

13) Michigan State (8-1) 1 Likely to Ohio State, Penn State, or to Iowa in Big X title Game. 1 loss eliminates Michigan State.

14) Michigan (7-2) Likely eliminated already. They need Utah to win out to get in, and wouldn't jump the Utes.

15) TCU (7-1) 1 loss. Likely to Oklahoma or Baylor. Another loss and they are eliminated.

Best Case Scenario:

Big 12

Canabalizes itself with Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma taking one more loss. Oklahoma has tough closing stretch and could jump Utah if they ran the table. Losses by all would allow Utah to jump each none. As long as all teams have one loss and Oklahoma has 2, Utah will jump entire conference.

Big X

Michigan runs table and wins Big X title game over undefeated Iowa, eliminating Hawkeyes. Ohio State needs to beat Michigan State and Michigan needs to beat Ohio State. Spartans are eliminated and 1 loss Ohio State won't get in over Utah if they don't win division and loss is to team Utah beat. Big 10 likely out.


Either LSU, Florida, or Alabama win out. Best case is definitive SEC champ, likely Alabama. SEC will almost certainly get a team in. Make it definitive and not a 4 seed that bumps a more deserving team (Utah, Stanford etc) just to get an SEC team in.


Clemson either wins out, or loses to Florida State, who loses to Florida. 2 loss FSU is eliminated. Utah likely jumps Clemson after they fail to win their division. Clemson winning out would give them 1 or 2 seed.

Notre Dame

Loss to Stanford. If they win out, Notre Dame is likely gets in as their only loss was on the road to Clemson. If Stanford wins out and Clemson wins out with Tigers #1 and Stanford #2, the Irish could sneak in as 2 loss #4 seed if Big 12 eats itself alive, and SEC finishes with 2 loss champ, but that is highly unlikely.

Overall best case:

Clemson wins out. Alabama wins out. Stanford wins out and loses to Utah. Michigan wins out and wins Big X over undefeated Iowa. Big 12 has zero undefeated teams and Oklahoma with 2 losses. Utah wins out.

Playoff would likely be:

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Utah

4.  or Big 12 Champ, or Ohio State, or Michigan (as Big 10 champ)

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