Utah Football Seeks Sole Control of Pac-12 South Against ASU

University+of+Utah+wide+receiver+and+redshirt+freshman+Devaughn+Vele+in+a+University+of+Utah+football+game+against+the+USC+Trojans+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+10%2C+2021.+%28Photo+by+Kevin+Cody+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29%0A

Kevin Cody

University of Utah wide receiver and redshirt freshman Devaughn Vele in a University of Utah football game against the USC Trojans on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah football team is looking for a victory against the Arizona State Sun Devils in order to stay undefeated in Pac-12 play. This is a massive game early on in the season, as the winner will gain sole control of the Pac-12 South. Whoever wins this one becomes much more likely to be able to take home the crown at the end of the year and earn the right to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Utah is coming off a big win against USC on the road, their first victory in the Coliseum in 105 years. It was a dominating performance for the Utes, and they are now 2-0 in conference play. Cameron Rising had a huge game and won the weekly offensive Pac-12 performance award for his 306 yards and three total touchdowns. 

Tavion Thomas had his best game of the year so far with 113 yards and a touchdown. Critically, he didn’t fumble, which was a problem for him through the first few games of the year.

Micah Bernard was the second back for the Utes, as he had been dealing with an injury over the bye week that he sustained against Washington State a few weeks ago. It will be interesting to see who is tapped as the lead back going into this week.

The wide receiving group got a lot more involved than they had been throughout most of the first part of the season, with nine players in double-digit receiving yards. That includes all three tight ends: Brant Kuithe, Dalton Kincaid and Cole Fotheringham. Devaughn Vele was the lead pass-catcher with 84 yards and a touchdown. 

All of those things will be critical for the Utes to keep up on offense if they are to win this game. The victory over USC was their most complete performance of the year, and with Rising manning the offense they should have a good chance to get out there and score some points. 

Defensively, Utah has been superb as always. USC finished with 26 points last week but two of the touchdowns came in garbage time, both with two-point conversions tacked on.

Kamo’i Latu was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for his performance, tallying 10 tackles. Devin Lloyd continues to cement his status as a likely first-round draft pick week after week, and Clark Phillips III has been sensational.

This defense is tough minded and hard-fought, and they will make life tough on ASU.

Arizona State’s only loss on the season came against BYU on Sept. 28. They are coming off a victory over Stanford last week, 28-10. Running back Rachaad White tallied 96 yards rushing. Quarterback Jayden Daniels passed for 175 yards and rushed for 76 more. Daniels is a dual-threat quarterback and Utah will have a tough time containing him.

The most the Sun Devil defense has allowed this year is 23 points to UCLA. Can Utah win by only putting up 23? They will likely need more than that to keep up, so it’s up to Rising, Thomas and the rest of the offense to put some points on the board.

Utah has their work cut out for them this week, and a win goes a long way towards taking home the Pac-12 South. It becomes much harder with a loss.

Utah will face ASU at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 16 in the Ute Proud game. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MDT.

 

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