Washington (3-1) at Utah (2-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 1st, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,634) -- Salt Lake City, Utah Television: FSN, MSG+. Home Record: Washington 3-0, Utah 1-0. Away Record: Washington 0-1, Utah 1-1. Neutral Record: Washington 0-0, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: Washington 1-0, Utah 0-1. Series Record: Washington leads, 6-0.
GAME NOTES: The Washington Huskies will make their first ever trip to Salt Lake City this weekend to usher in a new conference rivalry against the Utah Utes in an early season Pac-12 clash.
Washington enters this week having won seven of its last eight games dating back to last year, and came up with an important 31-23 win over California in the conference opener in Seattle last weekend. Washington hasn't had a 7-1 stretch since the 2001 season, when it started 4-0. The Huskies are a perfect 3-0 at home and were competitive in their only road loss at Nebraska in Lincoln this season. They will take on Utah for the first time since 1979.
Utah is 2-1 and coming off a bye after dominating rival BYU 54-10 two weeks ago in Provo. It was the best performance to date for the Utes, who narrowly lost to USC after a blocked field goal in the final seconds in the conference opener on September 10th. This will mark the first ever home Pac-12 game for the Utes, and head coach Kyle Wittingham, who won his 60th game at Utah against BYU, is 6-0 following bye weeks.
Washington leads the series 6-0, with all of those meetings coming at home in Seattle.
The Washington offense is led by quarterback Keith Price, who is tied for the national lead in touchdown passes with 14 through four games. Price looked good against Cal last week, completing an efficient 19-of-25 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns, and didn't throw an interception. His season pass efficiency is 176.6, good for ninth in the country, and his overall line is 75-of-112 for 983 yards, with three interceptions.
Running back Chris Polk gives Price a dangerous counterpart in the backfield. Polk is rushing for 105.5 yards per game this season, and is sporting a 4.9 yard per carry average with three touchdowns on the season. He needs just 17 more yards to become the third back in school history to break the 3,000 yard rushing barrier. Washington is averaging 386.2 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Washington is giving up 33.2 points per game and 453.2 yards of total offense (125.8 rushing, 327.5 passing). The Huskies have seven turnovers, which has resulted in 31 points, although the unit didn't have any takeaways last week against Cal. The defense took a blow this week when it was announced that its top pass rusher, Hau'oli Jamora, will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL. Washington has generated six sacks this season, as well as 16 tackles for loss. Cort Dennison is the leading tackler with 34 stops and 3.5 TFL. Washington has faced quality offensive opponents in Nebraska and Cal the last two weeks, and will get another stiff assignment this week when it squares off with Utah, led by running back John White and quarterback Jordan Wynn.
White rushed for 174 yards against BYU two weeks ago, and has 380 yards rushing so far this season (126.7 average) and five touchdowns. Wynn, who threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns against the Cougars, is averaging 192.7 yards passing per game with five touchdowns. The Utah offense is compiling 364 yards of total offense per game, with 171.3 yards coming on the ground. The top receiver has been DeVonte Christopher, who has 16 catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Utah generated seven turnovers against BYU, giving the unit 12 takeaways through three games, which ranks sixth nationally. The Utes are tied for the national lead with eight fumble recoveries, and rank third in turnover margin. The Utes are giving up 342.7 yards of total offense per game, including 263.3 yards through the air. The Utah run defense has been especially good, and was on display against BYU. The Cougars only managed 11 rushing yards. The run defense is ranked 14th in the country with 79.3 rushing yards allowed per game.
Price has proved to be one of the most productive quarterbacks in the conference this season, but Washington's ability to win this game will likely rest on how well Polk and the Huskies' run game fares against the Utes. Utah can flat-out shut down the run and take advantage of opportunities. Look for a steady dose of White on the other side of the ball, as he has been the main cog in the Utah offense, and he should help the Utes play ball control against the Huskies.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah 35, Washington 28
09/28 10:45:25 ET