The first Pac-12 game of the season sure is a doozy for the Utes, as they take on #12 ranked Washington at home.
Utah is perfect coming into the matchup, winning their first two games by a combined score of 58-16 against Weber State University and Northern Illinois. The Utes are currently ranked 1st in the Pac-12 South, while the Huskies are second behind Stanford. However, this is one of the more competitive teams the Utes will face all season. The first Pac-12 matchup of the season for both teams will be an exciting game to watch.
Something Utah will have to address quickly is their slow starts. Against Weber State, all 10 points conceded by the Utes were scored in the opening quarter. Against NIU, the teams were deadlocked at 3-0 going into the half. Washington comes into this game with a high-octane, scoring offense, with quarterback Jake Browning and a plethora of receivers to throw to.
Although Washington is considered by many to be a favorite in this game, playing in front of a packed Rice-Eccles Stadium will be the Utes’ best opportunity to control momentum, an intangible factor that can prove to be pivotal in a game’s back-and-forth. Huskies’ head coach Chris Petersen commented on the ambiance and atmosphere of the stadium.
“It’s a hard place to play. It’s as hard of a place to play that I’ve ever been,” Petersen said. “We thought we were in a hostile environment [against Auburn], it won’t even be comparable.”
Running will be key to Washington’s success if they hope to hand the Utes their first loss of the season. The Utes boast one of the most productive defensive units this season, but Myles Gaskin, also on a tear of his own with 128 yards on the season, is coming off of an impressive 2017 campaign. I’d still give the advantage to Zack Moss, who’s amassed 218 yards on the year, including scoring the longest touchdown of his career against Weber State at 86 yards.
The advantage lies with the Huskies in this game, but with the MUSS, great coaching, and a little bit of luck, the Utes could find themselves at 3-0. You can watch this game on ESPN Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. and follow @ZachJanis on Twitter for in-game live tweeting.