Preview: Washington vs. Utah
Washington (5-4, 3-3); Utah (4-5, 2-4) Time: 7:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field. TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: KJR 950 AM, 102. 9 FM. Line: Utah by 1...
Washington (5-4, 3-3); Utah (4-5, 2-4)
Time: 7:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field.
TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: KJR 950 AM, 102.9 FM. Line: Utah by 1 ½.
The setup: Huskies return to Seattle for final home game of the season having won their past two games to improve to 5-4. With a victory, UW will become bowl eligible for the third straight season. Utah, 4-5, has also won two in a row and needs to win two of its last three to become bowl eligible for the 10th straight season.
Key matchup: Utah has one of the better defensive lines in the conference, led by senior tackles Dave Kruger and Star Lotulelei, the latter a prospective high first-round NFL draft pick. The Huskies will counter with an offensive line that has improved, led in the middle by senior center Drew Schaefer. Washington was able to get just enough of a running game going against Stanford and Oregon State, which have similarly stout defensive lines, in marquee home wins earlier this season and will attempt to do so again.
What to expect: Each team features improved running games. Washington's Bishop Sankey is fifth in the conference at 95 yards per game and Utah's John White is seventh at 77.4. Expect each team to try to get that going and control the game on the ground. Washington will try to use the run to set up passes to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams. Utah will try to play it safe for true freshman quarterback Travis Wilson. The teams rank 10th and 11th in passing offense — UW at 200.7 yards per game and Utah at 199.1.
Notes: Washington is 7-0 against the Utes and is the only Pac-12 team Utah has never beaten. This is the second game between the two since Utah became a member of the conference last season. The Huskies won 31-14 last year in Salt Lake City. ... Utah has not played in Seattle since 1979, a 41-7 Huskies victory for a team that finished 10-2 and won the Sun Bowl. ... UW does not have any players from Utah on its roster. ... Utah receivers coach Aaron Roderick was briefly on the initial staff of UW coach Steve Sarkisian before deciding to return to Utah. ... Sarkisian has a 24-23 record as coach at UW.
Upset brewing? UW is again an underdog at home, which has been something of a formula for success for the Huskies this season. Washington beat Stanford and Oregon State — each in the top 10 at the time — as home underdogs. In each victory, UW played solid defense against the run and made just enough plays on offense to score the winning points late. A similar strategy could work against the Utes.
Injuries: Out for the season for UW are RB Jesse Callier (knee), DE Hau'oli Jamora (knee), RB Deontae Cooper (knee), WR James Johnson (wrist), OL Erik Kohler (knee), OL Colin Tanigawa (knee) and DL Lawrence Lagafuaina (leg). Several players were injured against California and their status for this week is uncertain. Those include CB Desmond Trufant (hamstring), DL Pio Vatuvei (leg) and DL Josh Banks (leg). Sarkisian said on KJR-AM Friday that Trufant will be a game-time decision. For Utah, RB Kelvin York (ankle) is questionable. CB Ryan Lacy, who missed the WSU game last week with an unknown injury, is expected to play.
Prediction: Washington 21, Utah 17.