This is an archived article that was published on in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A short list of things we've learned about Utah in the last month: 1. Utah will not play in the College Football Playoff. 2. Utah will not play in the Pac-12 Championship Game. 3. Utah is not the same team without the likes of Devontae Booker, Hunter Dimick, Tevin Carter, Filipo Mokofisi, Reginald Porter, Chase Hansen, Siale Fakailoatonga and Britain Covey. And 4. Utah looks much more beatable while losing the turnover battle (averaging one more per game than opponents in closing 2-3) than it did while winning it (averaging two fewer than opponents in starting 6-0).

The 2015 Utes came "close, but no cigar," Kyle Whittingham said after Saturday's 17-9 loss. And that's the naked truth.

After losses in consecutive weeks to Arizona and UCLA, Utah is 8-3, playing Colorado for a shot at Whittingham's fourth 10-win season and to bid its seniors a fond farewell.

Many fans, given the power, might've "taken that" before the season started.

But considering Utah was the AP's No. 3 this time last month and is now unranked, it's a less savory prospect.

What remains in play for the Utes depends on a few factors.

No. 1, obviously, a win over last-place Colorado. That'd make Utah 6-3 in conference, available for selection over any team, per conference rules, except an 8-1 Stanford that lost in the Pac-12 Championship Game to USC or UCLA.

No. 2, whether the Pac-12 gets an at-large New Year's Six bid in addition to the Rose Bowl, a scenario that seems most likely if either A. No. 11 Stanford beats No. 4 Notre Dame and then USC or UCLA in the Pac-12 title game, making the playoffs due to pending tumult in the ACC, Big 12, SEC and Big Ten, or B. No. 11 Stanford beats No. 4 Notre Dame and then loses to USC or UCLA, which goes to the Rose Bowl while Stanford lands an at-large bid in another NY6 game.

No. 3, the perceived competitiveness of Utah as a bowl opponent. Utah fans will seem likely to travel after a 9-3 season that exceeded the expectations of many, bolstering the team's bowl resume. But as beaten up as Utah is, loser of three of its last six, would Alamo Bowl executives pit the Utes against the likes of TCU? Does the Holiday Bowl believe Utah is a match for Wisconsin?

Let's assume that Stanford will not fall out of the New Year's Six: A Utah win over Colorado would leave it either tied with or one conference win behind Oregon (6-2), Washington State (6-2) and one of UCLA/USC (5-3). That means the Alamo (first choice), Holiday (second choice), Foster Farms (third choice) and Sun (fourth choice) bowls could take whichever of those teams are unselected when their turn comes.

Provided no 7-2 teams remain, those bowls can also choose the UCLA/USC loser (which will be 5-4) or Arizona State, if it beats Cal in the regular season finale (making it 5-4) over a 6-3 Utah.

The Las Vegas Bowl has the fifth choice and shares a tie-in with the Hawaii Bowl for BYU. Even if Utah lost to Colorado, and even though Utah would be a repeat invite, it's hard to imagine Vegas passing on a surprise 2015 Holy War for 7-5 ASU.

Should Utah lose to Colorado, the Vegas and Cactus bowls could also opt for 4-5 Cal, ASU or Washington. That may be unlikely, but it's remarkable that two weeks ago Utah was playing for a spot in the playoffs, but it needs to beat Colorado to guarantee itself a spot in a Pac-12-affiliated bowl.

That dark note aside, CBS Sports' Jerry Palm and SB Nation think Utah will wind up in the Holiday Bowl.

As Utah learned in 2012 and 2013, there are worse ways for a football team to spend its holidays than in sunny San Diego.

Even if there are better ways, too.

Twitter: @matthew_piper —

2015 Pac-12 bowl selection order

A conference team might also earn a second so-called "New Year's Six" bowl based on College Football Playoff Committee ranking, or the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions could play in the CFP semifinals, leaving the runners-up to the Rose Bowl. All times MST.

No. 1 Rose Bowl • vs. Big Ten champ, 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif., on ESPN

No. 2 Alamo Bowl • vs. Big 12 No. 2, 4:45 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 2 in San Antonio, on ESPN

No. 3 Holiday Bowl • vs. Big Ten, 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30 in San Diego, on ESPN

No. 4 Foster Farms Bowl • vs. Big Ten, 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26 in Santa Clara, Calif., on ESPN

No. 5 Sun Bowl • vs. ACC No. 3-6, noon Saturday, Dec. 26, in El Paso, Texas, on CBS

No. 6 Las Vegas Bowl • vs. MWC No. 1 or BYU, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19 in Las Vegas, on ABC

No. 7 Cactus Bowl • vs. Big 12 No. 6, 8:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 2 in Phoenix, on ESPN