Utah Looks to Stay Perfect Against NIU


Kiffer Creveling

University of Utah junior running back Devonta’e Henry-Cole (7) makes a catch during an NCAA Football game vs. the Weber State Wildcats at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Zach Janis

As the Utes come off of an astounding victory over Weber State in their first game of the season, the grind of college football is only just beginning. This week, the Utes travel to Illinois for the second time in school history to take on the Huskies of Northern Illinois University. This will be the first time the Utes play NIU, and the first time the Utes travel to the state of Illinois since 1988, when they lost to the University of Illinois.

The Huskies come into this game as a heavy favorite to win the western division of the Mid-American Conference. Joining in 1875 with a history of success, the Huskies will look to hand the Utes their first loss of the season.

Sutton Smith, a junior defensive lineman for the Huskies, led the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss, and was integral in the Huskies’ defensive unit as they went second in the nation in sacks and led the nation in tackles for loss. No small task by any means, but Utah’s offensive line is accustomed to dealing with difficult defenses. Coming from Pac-12 play, this is a challenge the Utes have seen before and can handle in this week’s game. The Utes are returning four starters for their second season in the role.

The Utes come into the game off of a convincing victory over Weber State University. After a slow start, the Utes gained their footing and dominated the rest of the game. While celebrating a huge victory, head coach Kyle Whittingham expressed worry about the slow start, as well as the inability of the defense to produce turnovers. While it may be attributed to first-game jitters, the Huskies are an opponent that the Utes have to be ready for. With an already-strong defense, the Utes will need a steady stream of offensive production as well. Luckily for the Utes, they led the nation in rushing offense last week and were second in the Pac-12 in total yards of offense, gaining almost 600 yards last week.

The Utes will look to maintain their perfect record for the season, while the Huskies will look to play spoiler to a Utah team that needs to stay in the win column. You can watch the game on ESPNews, and the game is slated to kickoff at 5:30 MT. 

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