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Sports >  WSU football

First look: Washington State at Utah

UPDATED: Mon., Dec. 14, 2020

Utah safety Zemaiah Vaughn runs 73 yards after intercepting a pass against Washington on Nov. 28 in Seattle as Utah quarterback Jake Bentley reacts on the sideline.  (Associated Press)
Utah safety Zemaiah Vaughn runs 73 yards after intercepting a pass against Washington on Nov. 28 in Seattle as Utah quarterback Jake Bentley reacts on the sideline. (Associated Press)

What is it? Washington State (1-2) travels to the Wasatch Range, where it will close out the regular season at Utah (2-2).

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

When is it? Kickoff is 10:30 a.m. PST Saturday.

Where can I watch it? Fox Sports 1 will carry the broadcast.

Who is favored? The Utes opened as 9½-point favorites.

How did they fare last week? The Cougars and Golden Bears were 90 minutes shy of the opening kick when the game was called off due to a California player testing positive for COVID-19. The Utes won their second straight game and knocked Colorado out of the Pac-12 title chase, beating the Buffaloes 38-21.

Why WSU will win: Though the Cougars never made it to kickoff Saturday, one key development came from pregame warmups. For the first time this season, running back Max Borghi was with the team on game day, suggesting he’ll make his season debut in Saturday’s season finale against the Utes. While it’s unclear how he’ll fit into what the Cougars are doing on offense, and also how the team will divide reps between Borghi and Deon McIntosh, the dynamic junior should make Nick Rolovich’s offense more difficult to prepare for. Utah’s offense poses its own problems, but the Utes don’t have the personnel they did in 2019, losing the explosive duo of quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss, who’s in the middle of a strong rookie season with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Why Utah will win: When the Cougars take the field in Salt Lake City, it will have been 13 days since their previous game, at USC. While that doesn’t compare to the three-week layoff they had prior to the game in Los Angeles, it’s still possible the Cougars will come out of the gates slow against a red-hot Utah team that has outscored its past two opponents 68-45. The Utes may not have Moss in their backfield this year, but freshman Ty Jordan has emerged as one of the Pac-12’s most productive rushers, with 443 yards and three touchdowns in three games. Jordan is averaging 110.7 yards per game, and he’s been at his best the past two weeks, rushing for a combined 314 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon State and Colorado.

What happened last time: Coming off a 67-63 loss to UCLA in which WSU allowed the Bruins to mount a 32-point comeback, a deflated Cougars team traveled to Salt Lake City the following week and lost in blowout fashion, 38-13, after being held scoreless in the second half. In what would be Tracy Claeys’ final game as WSU’s defensive coordinator, the Cougars allowed Huntley to pass for 334 yards and two touchdowns while ceding another 192 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The 25-point loss signaled the end of a four-game win streak for WSU against Utah dating back to 2013.

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