Utah Football Prepares to Avoid Upset at Stanford


Jonathan Wang

Junior captain defensive end Mika Tafua grabbing ASU quarterback at the game against Arizona State football in Salt Lake City on Oct. 16, 2021. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The University of Utah football team will hit the road this weekend to play Stanford in a late-night Friday game. Utah is coming off a big win against UCLA, which gave them near full control over the Pac-12 South. The Utes are heavily favored to win their division and play in the Pac-12 Championship game, but they need to take care of business the rest of the way to make that a certainty. 

The next test is a Stanford team that already has two big wins under their belt. The Cardinal have upset both USC and Oregon, both of whom were ranked in the top 15 when those games took place. Oregon was ranked No. 3. Stanford is just 3-5 overall, 2-4 in Pac-12 play, but they are capable of beating anyone on any given night, so the Utes need to keep their guard up.

Couple that with this being a road game on a Friday night at 8:30 p.m., and this shapes up as a classic trap game for Utah. 

Last week, Utah routed UCLA 44-24. It was a game that featured a titanic performance from running back Tavion Thomas, who had four touchdowns on the night. Utah’s offense was clicking on all fronts, and put up 44 points on the night on the back of Thomas, who was simply unstoppable. Thomas has improved drastically over the course of the year, cutting down on his turnover issues to earn head coach Kyle Whittingham’s trust as the lead back.

This performance proved that the Utes are very potent offensively if they execute their game plan, and the defense still has a very high ceiling, though inconsistent. It’s a different identity for Utah than what they’ve looked like over the last few years, but it’s been effective for them as Cameron Rising has found his groove. The tight end group is still dominant and is coming off another great game last Saturday. 

Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee is questionable with an injury suffered last week. McKee has been a big part of Stanford’s wins this season, and it would be a big blow if he can’t play. Jack West would likely start in his place.

Utah needs to set the tone early in this game and not overlook their opponent. This is the Pac-12, and upsets are commonplace. This Stanford team delivered two earlier this year. It will be up to the Utes to make sure that doesn’t happen to them.

The game will kick off at 8:30 p.m. MDT on Friday, November 5 in Stanford, California. 


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