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First look: Washington State at Utah

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 6, 2017, 8:39 p.m.

In this Oct. 21, 2017, file photo, Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley passes against Arizona State in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Salt Lake City. Huntley and the Utes host Washington State this Saturday. (Rick Bowmer / AP)
In this Oct. 21, 2017, file photo, Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley passes against Arizona State in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Salt Lake City. Huntley and the Utes host Washington State this Saturday. (Rick Bowmer / AP)

What is it? No. 19 Washington State (8-2, 5-2) hopes to erase its recent road woes and stay in the hunt for a Pac-12 title when it visits Utah (5-4, 2-4).

Where is it? Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

When is it? Saturday at 2:30 p.m. PST.

Where can I watch it? The game will air on Pac-12 Networks.

Who is favored? The Cougars are favored to win by 1 point.

Why WSU will win: This might as well be a one-game playoff for WSU, so the Cougars will be playing with quite a bit of desperation when they take the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Win on Saturday afternoon and they’ll get another chance to play the Huskies for the Pac-12 North in the regular-season finale three weeks from now. The Utes rank 31st nationally in total defense, but they also haven’t seen a top-30 defense this season and the Cougars broke into the top-10 after holding Stanford’s offense to 14 points on Saturday.

Why Utah will win: The Cougars have not just lost in their last two road games, they’ve been outscored 95-40 by teams that still don’t look as impressive as WSU when you take into account the season as a whole. The road has been a troubling place and the Utes are finally starting to look like a troubling team. Coming off four consecutive losses in the Pac-12, Utah responded with a resounding 48-17 win over Josh Rosen-less UCLA. The Cougars have plenty to play for in this game, but do so the Utes. Beating the Bruins meant win No. 5 for Utah, which can clinch bowl eligibility with an upset in Salt Lake City this weekend.

What happened last time? In 2014, the Utes sprinted out to a 21-0 by scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams, then took a 24-7 lead into halftime before WSU began to mount its comeback. That comeback both started and ended with touchdown passes from Connor Halliday to receiver Vince Mayle. Halliday fired an 11-yard pass to his top wideout to make it 24-14 and the Cougars won on Mayle’s 81-yard catch-and-run TD with 4:58 left in the fourth quarter. In the 28-27 win, Mayle had eight catches for 120 yards while River Cracraft finished with nine receptions and 126 yards. Dom Williams had two touchdowns.