Physicality will be expected as Utah looks for its first win of the season against undefeated Washington on Saturday night in Seattle.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of kickoff...
When: Saturday, Nov. 28 — 5:44 p.m. MST
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
Play-By-Play: Beth Mowins
Analyst: Kirk Morrison
Sideline Reporter: Stormy Buonantony
Radio: KALL ESPN 700 AM
Play-By-Play: Bill Riley
Analyst: Scott Mitchell
Sirius XM: Channel 380
Betting Line: Utah (+7) — Over/Under = 47.5
12-2 Washington / Utah was on a four-game losing streak entering last season's game before winning 33-28. Of those past five games, all but one of those has been decided with in a single-score. Washington won 10-3 in the 2018 Pac-12 championship game.
Last year, Utah came from behind to score 21 straight points in the second half and stun Washington in Seattle. After trailing 21-13 midway through the third quarter, the Utes rallied to score on three of their next four possessions for the 33-21 lead. Mika Tafua recovered a fumble for the Utes as Elijah Molden and Trent McDuffie did the same for the Huskies.
Coming off back-to-back Pac-12 south division titles, Utah starting the season 0-2 was not expected for the 2020 season. How do the Utes respond after their loss to No. 19 USC last weekend and do they make that big jump from the first to the second game of the season?
Utah must find a way to win the battle in the trenches and establish the passing game early and often. Last week, the Utes struggled mightily in those scenarios as the quarterbacks combined to throw three interceptions and complete 55.9% of their passes. They were consistently under pressure as USC's defensive line overwhelmed the Utes.
Because of those struggles in the trenches, the passing game really suffered. When given time, quarterback Jake Bentley got into a good rhythm and it resulted in the Utes touchdown. But when under duress, his throws got a tad erratic and what came next was a lot of three-and-outs.
Expect Washington to load the box and force the Utes to beat them through the air, and to stick with that game plan until Bentley proves he can do something about it. Establishing the passing offense early will force Washington to spread out and the Utes running game will open up.
Can the Huskies get the victory and take over first place in the Pac-12 north division? And can they do so playing against what's sure to be their toughest test to date?
The Huskies have struggled through the air, becoming a dominant running team in the process. It's expected that the Utes will load the box and force Washington quarterback Dylan Morris to beat them through the air.
Utah is extremely young and inexperienced in the secondary so Morris must be willing to test that unit throwing the ball down field. It'll be an advantage for the Utes if Morris consistently checks the ball but if Washington can force the ball downfield, it'll open up the running game.
With Oregon being shocked by 41-38 by Oregon State last Friday night, it leaves the Huskies as the only undefeated team in the north and in control of their own destiny. Utah will be riled up for this one, so the Huskies must match that physicality and intensity.
Utah Players To Watch: Bryan Thompson, WR, JR; Orlando Umana, C, SR; Jake Bentley, QB, SR; Nephi Sewell, LB, JR
Washington Player To Watch: Dylan Morris, QB, FR; Cade Otton, TE, JR; Zion Tupuola-Fetui, OLB, SO; Elijah Molden, DB, SR
Matchup To Watch: Utah Passing Offense vs. Washington Passing Defense
Weather Forecast: 34 degrees with intermittent clouds at kickoff. Five percent chance of rain with winds expected at 5 mph from the east southeast.
Prediction: It may not officially be a rivalry game but the games between the Utes and Huskies have been jam-packed with action and always coming down to the wire. Four of their past five meetings, including one in the 2018 Pac-12 championship game, have been decided by one score or less. Unfortunately for Utah, they've lost four of those five battles, ending their four-game losing streak with a 33-28 win last season.
In last week's loss to USC, the Utes offensive line was atrocious and it led to USC controlling the line of scrimmage. Utah cannot have that happen again as the Huskies have been known for their success in the trenches.
This is going to be a close game as I believe Utah makes a massive jump from its first to its second game, however I don't know if it'll be enough to take down a Washington team playing well.
Utah finds more success on offense as the offensive line holds it own, and the defense continues to see improvement. But Washington is playing better right now and that eventually leads to the win at home. Washington uses a big third quarter and then forces a Jake Bentley interception in the fourth quarter to hold on for the win.
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