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Sports >  WSU football

The pick: Why Utah will beat Washington State

SALT LAKE CITY – While head coach Nick Rolovich and Washington State exuded the “anytime, any place” mantra with regards to the final game of the regular season, it’d be understandable if in the back of their mind, the Cougars thought, “Anyone but Utah, anywhere but Salt Lake City.”

Alas, WSU’s roller coaster of a 2020 football season will end in Rice-Eccles Stadium against perhaps the hottest team in the Pac-12 South not named USC.

The Cougars will have to overcome Utah, Utah’s physical play, Utah’s nasty weather and Utah’s altitude just to break even and finish the season with a 2-2 record. Both teams would be bowl-eligible with a win, but both have decided they’d bypass the postseason if it became available to them.

It may not come down to which team is more driven Saturday in Salt Lake City, but which one is more talented. Utah is in more of a groove, the Utes are superior on defense and their freshman running back, Ty Jordan, is averaging better than 100 yards per game.

Anticipating what the Cougars will do is a much more challenging exercise, given they’ve played just one game since Nov. 14. In some ways, it makes predicting the outcome of the game a tad easier. With nonconference games against Utah State and BYU scheduled for 2021, WSU will have other opportunities against the Beehive State within the next calendar year. But the Utes will pose too difficult of a challenge at the tail end of a season that’s taken such a physical and emotional toll on the Cougars.

The pick: Utah 34, WSU 21.

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