Washington (8-2, 5-2) has an outside of chance of winning the Pac-12 North but the current big-picture focus is on trying to win 10 games for only the 12th time in the program’s 101-year history.
If the Huskies do win 10 games this season, it will make Chris Petersen the first coach since Don James in 1990 and 1991 to win 10 or more games in consecutive campaigns.
Reaching such a milestone means getting beyond Utah (5-5, 2-5) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium.
Let’s take a glance at what the Utes have done this season.
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FIRST HOT, THEN COLD AND NOW LUKEWARM
Utah bolted out of the gates with a 4-0 start which included a win over Arizona. Even its next two losses to Stanford and Southern California were close. The Utes lost by three points to the Cardinal and by one point to the Trojans in Los Angeles. Those losses came without starting quarterback Tyler Huntley.
Losing to Stanford and USC began a run of four consecutive losses. Utah dropped a home game to Arizona State and at Oregon. The Utes recovered to take a 48-17 win over UCLA but dropped last week’s game against Washington State.
Utah’s last three losses have all been a result of falling behind early. WSU got out to a 13-0 lead by the first quarter and took a 20-10 edge into halftime. Oregon was up 17-6 at half in its win over Utah while ASU held a 16-0 advantage.
TYLER THE CREATOR
Huntley, a sophomore, is going to get his yards whether it be through the air or on the ground.
The first-year starter has had something of a mixed season marred by injuries. He’s thrown for 1,953 yards and 13 touchdowns. Huntley has competed nearly 65 percent of his passes while rushing for 432 yards.
Much like his team, the last two weeks have been extremely for Huntley. He threw for four touchdowns and ran for 93 yards in a victory over the Bruins. A week later, he did throw for 305 yards but also had three interceptions in a loss to WSU. In all, the former South Florida high school football star has nine interceptions this season.
Here’s something to keep in mind when it comes to Huntley and his ceiling. Think about all the talent in an area like South Florida and realize Huntley is one of the best quarterbacks to ever come out of the region.
In 2015, he was named the Gatorade Football Player of the Year while throwing for 3,636 yards, 42 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
MIS-STAKING A CLAIM
Even after a 30-22 loss to Stanford, the UW defense is still the nation’s No. 4 unit. Is it possible the Huskies could flex their muscle against the Utes?
Utah’s offense might have a dynamic playmaker in Huntley but there’s also a few drawbacks. The Utes have allowed 66 tackles for loss which is 100th nationally out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision programs.
They’ve also struggled to take care of the ball. UW led the nation in turnovers last season but haven’t done so in 2017. The Huskies are ranked 47th in that department yet have a chance to add to those numbers.
Utah has committed 23 turnovers which places them in a tie with Kansas for 125th. It’s also possible UW’s front could either force Huntley into making a mistake or get a sack. The Utes have allowed 27 sacks which ranks 106th. ASU, Cal and Colorado are the only Pac-12 teams to allow more sacks this season.
Another issue plaguing Utah? Penalties. The Utes have been penalized 78 times for 705 yards. It comes out to an average of 70.5 yards per game which is 117th nationally.
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark