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Halliday and WSU's Air Raid face Wilson and Utah


Coach Kyle Whittingham would prefer it if quarterback Travis Wilson kept the acrobatics out of Utah's game Saturday against Washington State.

Wilson threw for 172 yards and a touchdown in Utah's 26-10 win over Michigan in the Big House last weekend, but he left the game for a time to get stiches after he tried to leap over a defender and flipped face first onto the field.

The 6-foot-7 quarterback's season was cut short last year after a concussion revealed an injury to an artery in his brain. Whittingham said that while the move wasn't a good idea for Wilson, his return sparked the Utes in the win.

''He's a tremendous competitor and exceptionally tough and very smart, he just didn't use the best judgment on that one isolated play,'' the coach said.

Wilson has thrown for seven touchdowns so far this season with no interceptions. Last season over nine games before his concussion, he had 16 TD passes and 16 interceptions.

While the Utes were still buzzing over their big win over Michigan, Washington State was encouraged that it was able to keep up with second-ranked Oregon last weekend.

The Ducks held off Washington State 38-31 in a surprisingly competitive matchup with two distinctly different offenses on display. The Cougars tied it at 31-all in the fourth quarter, but the Ducks answered with a 79-yard drive capped by Marcus Mariota's touchdown pass for the win.

''I thought the important thing is we played well,'' Washington State coach Mike Leach said on the Pac-12 coaches' teleconference. ''We didn't win, but we played well. We just have to keep improving this week.''

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Connor Halliday, who leads the nation in passing yards with 1,901, threw for 436 yards and four touchdowns in the loss to Oregon.

Utah watched the game on the way home from Michigan.

''We had TV sets on the way home so the entire airplane was pretty much glued to that game. Very prolific on offense throwing the football. They are averaging nearly 500 yards passing, which is tremendous. I don't know what the NCAA record is, but if they are able to keep that pace they will probably have the record,'' Whittingham said.

Here are some other things to consider when Washington State visits Utah on Saturday.

OLD PALS: Whittingham and Leach are friends from way back, but their paths didn't cross when both were students at BYU. Whittingham was a linebacker for the Cougars while Leach played for the Rugby team. ''He was a total football icon at BYU. There were the haves and the have nots, and Kyle was definitely a have. Played on a pretty good football team and had bigger muscles than most people,'' Leach said about Whittingham this week.

RECORD WATCH: Halliday needs three touchdown passes to pass Alex Brink's Washington State career touchdown record of 76, and he needs 28 completions to pass Brink's record of 828. On Utah's side, Dres Anderson needs just 26 yards to become the fifth receiver in Utes history to hit 2,000 yards. .

LAST TRIP TO UTAH: There are some Washington State players who have not-so-fond memories of their last trip to Utah. The Cougars lost 49-6 and afterward Leach called it a ''zombie convention'' on the field. He sent his entire offensive and defensive lines to answer to the media. ''This isn't last time. This is this time so we're just worried about that,'' Leach told the media Monday.

PAUL'S DEBUT: Linebacker Gionni Paul made his long-awaited debut for the Utes against Michigan and did not disappoint: He had a game-high 14 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Paul, who transferred from Miami and hadn't played in a game since 2012, was named the Pac-12's defensive player of the week.

THE LAST TIME: Halliday threw for 488 yards and four touchdowns and Washington State defeated Utah 49-37 in Pullman, Washington, last November, becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2006. However, Utah leads the overall series between the two teams 8-6.