This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Forget Black Friday.
The Utah Utes have never found a better deal than joining the Pac-12 Conference, which is delivering surely the most compelling 36 hours in school history. Not only will fans get to cheer for the Utes to beat Colorado in the regular-season finale at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, they then will get to watch two other games whose results will directly impact whether their team can reach the … gulp … Rose Bowl.
Say that out loud.
The Utes in the Rose Bowl.
It's possible, all right, if not exactly probable.
But the Utes have proved they could play with anybody in the past hello, Alabama? and who knows what's going to happen next in this topsy-turvy season? Is it really so hard to imagine the Utes reaching the inaugural Pac-12 title game, and then stunning either Oregon or Stanford to reach the Granddaddy?
The first step, of course, is beating Colorado.
Frankly, this should be easy. The Buffs have endured a miserable season full of injuries, are riding a 24-game out-of-state losing streak, and confounded new coach Jon Embree by lifelessly scoring one measly touchdown in a 45-6 loss at UCLA (you know, the team the Utes pounded 31-6) last weekend.
So step one, check.
Then, just hours after the Utes are finished, Cal will kick off at Arizona State.
The Utes will need Cal to win to keep their hopes alive of finishing second in the Pac-12 South Division (behind USC, ineligible for the postseason) and reaching the league title game. The Golden Bears are 51/2-point underdogs, but the Sun Devils have fallen apart lately, losing four of their past five games after a strong start and putting coach Dennis Erickson's job in jeopardy.
That one could be dicey.
But if it works out, the Utes can tune in to UCLA playing at USC on Saturday night, Maalox in hand.
The Utes would need the Trojans to win for the 12th time in 13 meetings, something that seems almost certain considering the way they have been playing lately. The Trojans are favored by two touchdowns, and the Bruins who will play in the title game if they win have averaged just 12 points while losing their last three road games and could be playing for coach Rick Neuheisel's job.
If somehow all of those things come together, the Utes will be playing in the league title game Dec. 2, with a shot at the Rose Bowl, and fans finally will be able to exhale.
For a moment, anyway.
And up north?
Oregon will represent the Pac-12 North Division in the inaugural league title game Dec. 2 if it beats rival Oregon State at home in the annual Civil War on Saturday. If the Ducks lose, Stanford will reach the title game and still have a shot at the BCS championship game, provided it beats Notre Dame at home Saturday.
email@example.com The games that matter to U.
Game Date Time TV
Colorado at Utah Friday 1:30 p.m. ROOT
Cal at Arizona State Friday 9:15 p.m. ESPN
UCLA at USC Saturday 8 p.m. ROOT