#10 Washington (1-1) vs. Utah (2-0)
Saturday, September 15th @ 7:00 p.m. PST
Rice-Eccles Stadium (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Line: Washington -4.0
The Washington Huskies will face off against Utah tomorrow night, on the road in their first Pac-12 conference game of the season. The contest will feature two teams with elite defenses, and the game will be equally important for each team.
“This defense is as good as I’ve seen and they’re always known for defense in terms of what they’re doing. They’ve got some really good players that have played for them for a long time. They’re extremely aggressive. This is one of the best defenses in our league, for sure, if not the best. We’re early in the season and they stay healthy and all those things, those guys do a really good job.” Washington head coach Chris Petersen said about Utah earlier this week.
With aspirations of winning the Pac-12 championship this season, and making the College Football Playoff, the Huskies cannot afford another loss on their resume. The Utes were picked in the preseason to contend for the Pac-12 South title, and winning this game would put them on the map.
For both teams, finding out their true identities will be revealed tomorrow night. The Huskies looked good against Auburn and didn’t flinch, but returned home against North Dakota and looked average.
The Utes currently have the best total defense in the entire country but they haven’t played a quality opponent yet. They have defeated the likes of Weber State and Northern Illinois to start out the season. For the Utes, the Huskies will be their first stern test as facing a top-ten team will show whether they are for real or not.
KEY PLAYERS: WASHINGTON
QB – Jake Browning
Jake Browning returns for his senior season as the all-time leader in school history with 78 touchdowns for his career. After two games, Browning hasn’t looked sharp with throwing three interceptions.
RB – Myles Gaskin
Myles Gaskin is now the all-time rushing leader in school history but has gotten off to a slow start so far this season. He is a multidimensional back who has good hands and can pass block extremely well.
DL – Greg Gaines
Greg Gaines was named to the Chuck Bednarik Award preseason watch list which is given to the nation’s top defensive player. He is ultra-physical and is a strong presence while plugging the middle against the run.
KEY PLAYERS: UTAH
QB – Tyler Huntley
Tyler Huntley is a talented dual threat quarterback who can beat you with his legs and his arm. He is a physical player and tough to tackle at 6-feet-1 inches and 200 pounds.
LB – Chase Hansen
Chase Hansen is a former star safety that has been converted to linebacker, Hansen is a physical force in the middle of the field and is the Utes leading tackler.
RB – Zack Moss
Zack Moss is a skilled and gifted running back who has already notched two TD’s and ran for 216 yards through two games. Moss is essential to the Utes offensive attack.
– Washington has played Utah only 11 times (10-1), winning the first eight before taking a loss in 2015, with each meeting prior to the 2011 conference matchup in Salt Lake City coming in Seattle.
– Utah earned its first victory in the series in 2015 in Seattle as a 24-point outburst in the second quarter led to a 34-23 victory.
– The Huskies have led the Pac-12 in total defense for three years in a row, climbing the national rankings each year, capped by a No. 8 national finish last season.
– Utah leads the Pac-12 conference in red zone defense.
– THE 100-YARD FACTOR: Since the 1947 season, Washington is 212-66-3 (.760) when a Husky player rushes for 100 yards in a game. The Huskies were 8-0 in such games in 2016, and were 5-1 in 2017.
PREDICTIONS (Cascadia Sports Staff)
Mazvita Maraire (0-0)
I think Saturday’s game will be a tough physical matchup with two teams looking to impose their will on the other. Like last year, this should be a back and forth affair for three-quarters with Washington’s run game wearing down the Utes.
Washington 27 – Utes 14
Jeff Wright (0-0)
The Huskies need to get out to a fast start in a hostile environment. Slow starts have really plagued them this season and have been the norm. I expect the Huskies to play a sound game and cut it loose with the full playbook being at their disposal now with conference play here. They need to cut down on penalties as they are averaging 70 yards a game in penalty yards, which is last in the Pac-12 conference. That is not indicative of a Coach Petersen disciplined team! The game will be close going into halftime and in the 3rd-quarter with the running game getting into a nice rhythm, the Huskies will assert themselves and pull ahead and never look back. The defense will be their usual dominant selves and Jake Browning will look very good and manage the game efficiently. I’m calling for a tough and gritty Husky win, and the team will live up to all the preseason hype and expectations.
Washington 27 – Utes 17