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ASU Football: First Look at Utah

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Not a fan favorite

NCAA Football: Utah at Southern California Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that Arizona State fans aren’t exactly buddy-buddy with their Utah counterpart. And the Sun Devils — much like their fans — still have a sour taste in their mouths after the 2019 loss.

Arizona State enters Saturday’s contest in a similar situation as it did back in 2019. Ranked in the Top 25, a win providing a clear path to the Pac-12 South and a 5-1 record. However, most of this Sun Devil team experienced that Utah defensive domination. Many are hoping that Arizona State can turned that game into a learning lesson.

Better Than it Record

When Utah started the season 1-2, many thought the team was bad. Shortly after starting quarterback Charlie Brewer, who had transferred in from Baylor, left the team following a benching against San Diego State. But now the Utes scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to beat Washington State and dominated USC in their next game.

We’ve learned that BYU and San Diego State are better teams than originally thought, and Utah played both close. There’s a reason the Vegas odds have already shifted in favor of Utah.

This isn’t one of the most talented Utah teams, but seem to carry the same culture it has it the past. And Utah being undefeated as well, means it has a very good shot at the Pac-12 title as well.

Win the Trenches

Cameron Rising didn’t come in for Brewer and become unstoppable. He did play well against San Diego State and USC, but Utah’s running game shined in both conference wins.

TJ Pledger rushed for 117 yards, including a big 59-yard run, and a touchdown versus Washington State. Then Tavion Thomas carried the load in the win over USC with 15 carries, 109 yards and a score. According to GameonPaper.com, each player had an expected points added (aka EPA for the football nerds) of four-plus in their respective games.

When not counting yards lost from sacks, Stanford’s running backs Nathaniel Peat and Austin Jones combined for 45 yards on 15 carries. It’s likely the team that wins that matchup will come out of Salt Lake with a win.