Utah Football Heads to Pullman to Battle Washington State


Jonathan Wang

University of Utah football running back Micah Bernard against USC at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The University of Utah football team heads to Pullman, Washington this week for a showdown with the Washington State Cougars. If you think you know what’s going to happen on Thursday night, you don’t.

This is a trap game to end all trap games. The Cougars are frisky — good even — and Utah is coming fresh off a bye week following an emotional, come-from-behind victory over a top-10 team. They’re playing on a Thursday night, late, in predictably icy weather in a bona fide college town. The Utes and Cougars have both had a weird half-bye, not playing last Saturday but getting back into it early with this Thursday night offering.

Washington State quarterback Cam Ward has put together a great season, and profiles as a similar type of player to Anthony Richardson, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Caleb Williams, all of whom have given Utah fits this season.

In short, if you planned on taking some money to Vegas for this game, maybe rethink that choice.

The Utes are clinging onto hope for a Pac-12 Title berth, and they can’t really afford any more stumbles along their way to Allegiant Stadium. They’ll face Oregon in Autzen in late November and a loss before then almost certainly takes them out of the race. The Ducks have not lost in conference, and Utah, USC and UCLA are all sitting with one Pac-12 loss in a potential rock-paper-scissors scenario, with the two LA squads set to face off the same day as Utah and Oregon. The Utes will still most likely need to beat the Ducks to punch their ticket to Las Vegas, and that dream also includes beating everyone else before and after them. Pac-12 tiebreakers and seeding scenarios are weird and complicated with the elimination of divisions. 

All of this is a long-winded way to say that Thursday night in Pullman is a must-win scenario for Utah, but the circumstances of the game make that a taller task than it normally would be. Washington State is a good team that can hang with the big boys, as they showed against Oregon and USC, but they also were recently easily handled by the same Oregon State team that the Utes steamrolled at home a month ago. Pac-12 gonna Pac-12.

The Utes have had a few extra days to get healthy and tune up some of their weaknesses. They ultimately got the job done last week vs. USC, but the defense was nowhere near championship level. The running game is still struggling, and with Tavion Thomas’s status a little more than unclear, they have found no answers in recent weeks. 

We are certain to have some Pac-12 After Dark action on Thursday at 8 p.m. MST. The Utes are rightfully favored to win, but anything can happen on any given week, and a lot of factors are at play here. Buckle up.


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