Utah (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) at Washington State (4-6, 2-5) Time: 2 p.m., Martin Stadium. TV: Fox College Sports Atlantic. Radio: KTTH 770 AM...
Utah (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) at Washington
State (4-6, 2-5)
Time: 2 p.m., Martin Stadium.
TV: Fox College Sports Atlantic. Radio: KTTH 770 AM. The line: Utah by 3 ½ points.
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The setup: Utah, which became bowl-eligible last week, tries to better its postseason position. It still holds a very slim chance of claiming the Pac-12 South spot in the league title game. WSU, coming off a rousing upset of Arizona State, needs the victory to retain hopes of bowl eligibility.
Key matchup: Utah DEs Tevita Finau and Joe Kruger vs. WSU RTs Dan Spitz and Jake Rodgers. Spitz, himself a replacement for injured Wade Jacobson, has been bothered by a bad ankle and could give way to Rodgers, a redshirt freshman who might make his first start. Tough baptism against a stiff Utah front.
What to expect: Utah, which lost quarterback Jordan Wynn in October, will pound smallish RB John White repeatedly and leave the rest to a defense that leads the Pac-12 in stopping scoring (19.2 ppg). The Cougars hope to protect surprising redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Halliday and beat the Utes with a mix of pass and run with Rickey Galvin and Carl Winston.
Notes: Weather could be dicey, with a forecast high of 29, low of 16 and 40 percent chance of snow showers. … Crowd could be slim, with students having begun Thanksgiving break Friday. … In Utah’s current three-game winning streak, White has carried 95 times for 481 yards, and QB Jon Hays is only 23 of 48 for 328 yards. … WSU run defense allows 156 yards a game, but held Arizona State to season-low 60 last week. … The Cougars have allowed the most sacks in the league at 32, while Utah has 28 sacks and has Pac-12-leading 14 interceptions. … Utah red-zone defense is tied with Stanford at Pac-12 top at 70.4 percent success allowed, and only 13 TDs in 27 tries. … Utah’s offense is last in the league in first downs with 16.9 a game. … WSU WR Marquess Wilson has 1,197 yards in 2011, topping Brandon Gibson’s school record of 1,180 in 2007.
Injuries: Utah — QB Jordan Wynn (shoulder), out; WSU — QB Jeff Tuel (clavicle), out; WR Marquess Wilson (hip), S Deone Bucannon (ankle), CB Daniel Simmons (ankle), OT Dan Spitz (ankle), questionable.
Upset brewing? After Halliday’s monster game last week, it would be unwise to count out the Cougars. But this is a tougher front that should muster a better pass rush, and WSU has several players hobbling.
Prediction: Utah 27, Washington State 13.