No. 4 Washington (7-0, 4-0 in Pac-12) at No. 17 Utah (7-1, 4-1)
12:30 p.m. PT, Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City
The line: Washington by 10
TV: FOX Sports 1
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Chris Petersen said a few times this week that this will be Washington’s toughest test of the season so far, and it’s difficult to argue with that.
Utah doesn’t jump off the page in many statistical categories, aside from takeaways (the Utes lead the nation with 22) and interceptions (they’re tied for the national lead with 14). But they keep winning, particularly in close games, and they’re far better than either of the teams the Huskies have played on the road so far (Arizona and Oregon).
Joe Williams, Utah’s un-retired running back, has been outstanding in two games since returning to the team. Troy Williams, the former UW quarterback now at Utah, is hellbent on showing the Huskies what they’re missing. ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be there. It should be a fun atmosphere.
But none of that changes the fact that Washington is probably still the better team.
The Huskies have a top-10 scoring offense and top-10 scoring defense. They rank seventh nationally in yards per rush and lead the country in team passing efficiency. Defensively, they’re tied for 10th nationally in yards per play allowed. And while Jake Browning and UW’s offense haven’t played a defense as skilled as Utah’s, the Utes still allow 5.64 yards per play, which ranks only 69th in the country.
Utah’s offense, at 5.72 yards per play, ranks 68th. The Utes rank 90th in team passing efficiency. And that’s what I keep coming back to as I mull this game over -- that even if Utah gets to Browning and forces a turnover or two, I don’t know if the Utes are dynamic enough offensively to keep up with a Huskies defense that is by far the best they have seen this season.
Utah should keep this one close for a while, but in the end, I just think the Huskies have offensive firepower where the Utes don’t, and that will make the difference. If UW takes care of the ball, it should leave Salt Lake City with an 8-0 record.
The pick: Washington 35, Utah 17.