November 14, 2011 in Sports

First Look: Utah at Washington State

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Halliday to start

Washington State head coach Paul Wulff named redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Halliday the starter for Saturday’s game against Utah in Pullman. It will be the first start for Halliday, named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after throwing for 494 yards in the Cougars’ 37-27 win over Arizona State in Pullman last Saturday.

Time: 2 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium

TV: None

Records: WSU (4-6, 2-5 in Pac-12); Utah (6-4, 3-4)

Last week: WSU defeated Arizona State, 37-27; Utah defeated UCLA, 31-6

Last time: WSU defeated Utah, 38-21, in 2000

The line: Utah by 3.5

What it means for WSU

One down, two to go. The Cougars still have an outside shot at six wins and a bowl berth, something Utah has already clinched. After losing to California, offensive guard John Fullington pointed to an unlikely source for motivation: the Huskies. Last year, the Cougars’ rivals were 3-6 and needed to win three consecutive games to become bowl-eligible. They did. Now WSU is trying the same unlikely path.

What it means for Utah

Talk about unlikely. Three weeks ago the Utes were 0-4 in the Pac-12 and wondering if they would ever win a conference game. Three wins later, they now have a shot at the Pac-12 South Division title, if everything breaks right. But they can’t worry about what happens to ASU and UCLA, which they trail by a game (USC is ineligible). They have to defeat WSU this week and Colorado at home in their final game. Then they have to hope.

Key matchup

Utah’s defensive line and WSU’s offensive line.

This game will be won in the trenches on both sides of the ball. But we’ll concentrate on the Utes’ defensive front, since coach Kyle Whittingham believes there are four or five guys in the group that could play on Sundays someday. How good is the Utah front four? Though the Utes’ top three tacklers are middle linebacker Chaz Walker (82), strong safety Brian Blechen (62) and outside backer Matt Martinez (60), meaning the front is doing its job of keeping offensive linemen from the second level, the starting group up front has still combined for 19.5 tackles for loss. The Cougars’ offensive line played its most physical game Saturday, but will have to take it up another level this week.

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