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The pick: Why No. 19 Utah will beat Washington State

SALT LAKE CITY – During his weekly news conference, Mike Leach was reminded of Washington State’s four-game win streak against Utah – a run that started in 2013 with a 49-37 win in Pullman, continued with a 28-27 victory in Salt Lake City the next year, resumed in 2017 after a two-year break with a 33-25 win at Rice-Eccles Stadium and carried into 2018, when the Cougars beat the Utes 28-24 on a decisive 89-yard touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew to Easop Winston Jr.

Asked if there was a key to WSU’s run of success against Utah, Leach began to answer before performing a double-take: “Is it four (consecutive wins)?” he asked, turning to a sports information director.

As if it was almost too good to be true.

When the season started, I picked three losses for the Cougars, including a Week 5 defeat on the Wasatch Front. I was prepared to modify that after watching USC upend Utah in Los Angeles last Friday, especially knowing Utes running back Zack Moss probably wouldn’t be healthy to play WSU.

But any concerns I have about the No. 19 Utes are overshadowed by the ones I have about the Cougars. For the first time this season, Anthony Gordon and the Air Raid offense should face some actual resistance from a legitimate Pac-12 defense. I’d still expect the Cougars to get on the board plenty, but after last week’s effort against UCLA, I’m not sure the defense can prevent Utah from doing the same.

The pick: Utah 38, WSU 31.