NO. 10 WASHINGTON (9-3) AT NO. 17 UTAH (9-3)
5 p.m., Friday, Levi’s Stadium
The line: Washington -5
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Outlook: Ask any Washington player or coach to describe the regular season match-up against Utah and the first word will be “physical.” Don’t expect anything different in the Pac-12 championship, either.
The Huskies might be as healthy as they’ve been all season heading into this game. While backup running back Kamari Pleasant and offensive lineman Jared Hilbers are questionable, several players who missed time for injuries this season returned in recent weeks.
Those players include tight end Hunter Bryant, who caught three passes for 108 yards in last week’s Apple Cup. Running back Myles Gaskin, who missed two games after suffering an injury against Oregon, is playing better than he has all season.
Defensive back Jordan Miler is also back on the field. And left tackle Trey Adams, who has played in just two games since reportedly undergoing back surgery, played three full quarters against Washington State after Hilbers’ injury.
As for the Utes, they’re missing starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and starting running back Zack Moss.
However, backup quarterback Jason Shelley and running back Armand Shine have stepped nicely into their roles. And because head coach Kyle Whittingham recruits so well to fit his system, UW head coach Chris Petersen said the offense runs almost exactly the same.
In three starts, Shelley has thrown for 624 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns. Shine has averaged 19.3 carries and 92 yards per game during the same span.
This game has all the makings of a defensive battle. UW leads the Pac-12 in points allowed per game (16.5) and yards allowed per game (311.3). The Utes are second in both categories, giving up 19.3 points per game and 315.8 yards per game.
Prediction: UW 24, Utah 14