SALT LAKE CITY – The setting and circumstances favor Utah.
The Utes don’t often lose at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and visiting Washington State has not had a pleasant past two years at the venue. The Cougs blew a 21-point lead and dropped last season’s matchup 45-28 and also fell 38-13 in Salt Lake City in 2019.
Utah (1-2, 0-0 Pac-12) will have 50,000-plus supporters behind it Saturday for its homecoming bout with the Cougars (1-2, 0-1), who haven’t played a road game this season.
Both teams are coming off gut-wrenching losses, but WSU’s was more disheartening.
The Cougars got picked apart by Southern Cal in a noncompetitive second half and were crushed 45-14. There weren’t a whole lot of positive takeaways.
Quarterback Jayden de Laura, WSU’s offensive catalyst, suffered a leg injury that might keep him out vs. Utah.
The Utes, behind quarterback Cameron Rising’s solid play off the bench, rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter at San Diego State, but the comeback fell just short in a 33-31 triple-overtime defeat.
Utah can draw optimism from its resilience. And the Utes seem to have found their QB of the future in the process.
The Utes will bounce back and return to their old ways with a dominant defensive showing against an unstable WSU offense, and Rising will spearhead a four-touchdown second half against a gassed Cougars defense.
The pick: Utah 38, Washington State 23
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