Had the stars aligned, the Colorado football team could have clinched the Pac-12 South division title last Saturday night.

The fact that the Buffaloes have to go down to the wire for the title might actually be more fitting, however.

On Saturday, the Buffs (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12), ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press and Amway Coaches' polls, will host No. 21 Utah (8-3, 5-3) at Folsom Field.

CU has been waiting a while for a season finale that means something, and as it turns out, this one means everything.

If the Buffs win, they will clinch the South division title, advance to the Pac-12 championship game and keep hope alive for the College Football Playoff. Lose, and USC will take the South and the Buffs will gear up for a nice December bowl game.

"We'd love to win (the Pac-12 South) on the field," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "I think it even makes it better. Our guys are excited about playing.

"Utah is an excellent football team. They've beat us every year I've been here, and it's appropriate to be the last game of the year with a lot riding on it. It's an exciting thing and it makes it special for our players, makes it special for the fans, and I know it makes it really special for Utah, too."

A week ago, it appeared this game would be the de facto South title game, but Utah was eliminated with a stunning 30-28 loss at home to Oregon. The Utes aren't wasting any time licking their wounds, however. They've got plenty to play for, including spoiling CU's title hopes.


"They're trying to get to the championship and we're trying to stop them from getting to the championship," Utah receiver Tim Patrick said to the Salt Lake Tribune on Monday. "They have to come through us to get to the championship.

"We want (the Buffs) to feel like we felt after Oregon."

In 2011, Utah was sitting in CU's position - at home for the season finale and needing a win to get into the Pac-12 title game. The Buffs, despite bringing a 2-10 record into the game, came away with a 17-14 victory.

Since the two schools joined the Pac-12 that year, that was the only time CU has defeated the Utes. Every game since has been decided by seven points or less.

Those are rivalry-type of results, although this matchup certainly hasn't had a rivalry feel to it over the years. The raised stakes this week might change that.

"I definitely see it as a rivalry," said MacIntyre, who is 0-4 against Utah in his career (0-3 at CU). "It's close proximity, a lot of these kids know each other and being the last game of the year with a lot riding on the game I think does make more height to it, which makes it a little bit more energetic with a rivalry type atmosphere."

Bobo on the mend

Utah wide receiver Tim Patrick said the Utes are trying to prevent CU from winning the Pac-12 South championship.
Utah wide receiver Tim Patrick said the Utes are trying to prevent CU from winning the Pac-12 South championship. (Rick Bowmer / AP)

CU receiver Bryce Bobo left Saturday's game, a 38-24 win against Washington State, with an injury that he described on Monday as "a mid to high ankle sprain."

Bobo, who has 41 catches for 523 yards this season, is questionable to play against the Utes, but he said he's working hard to get on the field.

"I'm feeling a lot better," he said. "Since the game I've been just rehabbing non-stop. This week is actually really good since we don't have school. I'm going to be living in the training room basically every day. Right now it's kind of like a day-to-day thing. It's going to be kind of a game time decision to see if I'm playing or not.

"I'll be back soon enough. It's not going to keep me out long at all."


Safety Ryan Moeller suffered a concussion early in Saturday's win. MacIntyre said Moeller will go through concussion protocol and the Buffs hope he can play this week. ... Saturday's game will the second in a row at Folsom pitting top-25 teams. That hasn't happened in back-to-back weeks since 1998.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.