STANFORD CARDINAL (3-2)
at UTAH UTES (4-0)
Rice-Eccles Stadium Ė Salt Lake City, UT
Kickoff: Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET
Line: Stanford -6.5, Total: 53.5
#20 Utah will be hoping to improve to 5-0 with a home victory over Stanford on Saturday.
The Cardinal have gotten themselves going over the past two weeks, as they defeated UCLA 58-34 two weeks ago and followed it up with a 34-24 victory over Arizona State last week. The wheels had appeared to be falling off after a 20-17 loss to San Diego State in the third week of the season, but the Cardinal have new life right now. They could make a statement by winning this game on Saturday, but the Utes will similarly be looking to put themselves on the radar. Utah is a perfect 4-0 both SU and ATS at this point in the season, but nobody appears to be talking about this team. That would change if the team was able to find a way to beat Stanford, which is exactly what the Utes have done in their past three meetings with the Cardinal. The two programs last met on Nov. 15, 2014, when Utah won 20-17 as a 10-point underdog. One trend that should be mentioned when looking at this game is the fact that Stanford is 38-18 ATS in road games versus teams that pass for 250 or more yards per game since 1992. Utah, however, is also an impressive 31-14 ATS when playing with two weeks of rest or more since 1992, so something will have to give in this game.
The Cardinal are really playing well over the past two weeks and a lot of that has to do with the team having some new live at the quarterback position. QB K.J. Costello (376 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT) is the teamís new man under center and he has been a good presence for the team thus far. Costello has not thrown any picks over the past two weeks and has also added two rushing touchdowns on the year. That is adding another element that must be defended, which helps take pressure off of star RB Bryce Love (1,088 yards, 8 TD). Love has been insane for the Cardinal this season, as he has already rushed for over 1,000 yards. He has 564 of those yards in the past two weeks and has also added four touchdowns in that span. If he can continue to play like this then there is a great chance that Stanford will find a way to get itself back in the conversation in the Pac-12. It could, however, be hard for him to find as many holes against a solid Utah defense on Saturday. The good news is that his speed should allow for a breakout play or two, so keep an eye out for him here. Defensively, the Cardinal will need to be prepared to stop the pass here. The Utes have one of the best receivers in the nation in Darren Carrington, and Stanford will not win if he has his way in this one.
The Utes are one of the most slept on teams in the nation year in and year out, but they can make people take notice of them with a win on Saturday. Stanford is playing very well coming into this game, so Utah can show people what the program is made of with a convincing victory. The man that will need to play well in this game for the Utes to win is QB Troy Williams. The Utes lost starter Tyler Huntley to a shoulder injury last game, so they are now counting on Williams to step up and play well. He threw for 131 yards and rushed for a score in a win over Arizona last week and should be able to do just fine here. Williamsí job is easy: Get the ball to WR Darren Carrington (30 rec, 485 yards, 4 TD). Utah was handed a gift when Carrington transferred from Oregon in the offseason. The senior is one of the best players in the nation and has already been ridiculous to start this year. It would not be surprising if he were to top 100 yards and haul in a touchdown or two in this game. It would just help if Utah were to have any sort of running game to take pressure off of Williams and the passing attack. And on defense, the front seven better be ready for a battle. If Utah canít defend the run then there is no way the team will win here.