Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday’s game against Utah will be Washington’s finale at its temporary doghouse. The Huskies have played all of their home games this season at CenturyLink Field while Husky Stadium has undergone a massive renovation.
The move has proven to be beneficial. Washington is 4-1 on the Seattle Seahawks’ field. Victories include two teams ranked among the top 10. The Huskies defeated No. 8 Stanford, 17-13 on Sept. 27, and No. 7 Oregon State, 20-17 on Oct. 27.
“It’ll be a good test for us — another good test for us,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.
The Utes (4-5) need a win to avoid their first non-winning regular season since 2002. Their bid for a 10th consecutive bowl appearance is also in peril with three games left to play.
“Our backs are still to the wall and they’ll remain that way through the rest of the season,” Whittingham said. “That’s our approach. That’s not going to change. We’ve got to keep fighting our way back. So that’s where we’re at.”
Speaking of location, Utah has fared well in recent years at stadiums housing NFL teams when it visited. The Utes, in fact, have won nine straight such games dating back to 2004. The run of success includes six victories at Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego Chargers), as well as single triumphs at Sun Devil Stadium (Arizona Cardinals before their move to University of Phoenix Stadium), the Louisiana Superdome (New Orleans Saints) and Heinz Field (Pittsburgh Steelers).
Going to another active NFL stadium, however, hasn’t been a big topic of conversation within the program.
“I hadn’t really thought of that,” Whittingham said. “But some of the players might think that’s a pretty good deal.”
Indeed. Freshman quarterback Travis Wilson and junior defensive end Joe Kruger are looking forward to the trip.
“Growing up I always wanted to play in NFL stadiums,” Wilson said. “So I think it’s going to be a great time. We’ve just got to make sure we go in there and get stuff done.”
Kruger knows all about that. He’s made successful trips to San Diego and Pittsburgh during his career and is looking forward to another game on a pro field, as are many of his teammates.
“I think most of the players are excited to go up there and play at that stadium,” Kruger said. “It’s cool to be there, cool to be in an NFL stadium and see all that stuff.”
Senior running back John White, though, isn’t enamored about it.
“It’s not a big deal for me. When you go out there it’s just another field,” he said. “It’s a Pac-12 opponent, it’s not like an NFL team we’re playing against.”
EXTRA POINTS: Washington is the only team in the Pac-12 that Utah has never beaten. The Huskies have won all seven meetings . . . This is the Utes’ first game in Seattle since 1979 . . . Utah has given up just 17 points in the third quarter this season . . . Washington’s final two games are on the road. The Huskies travel to Colorado and Washington State . . . Arizona has returned about 600 of its allotted tickets to next week’s game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The tickets are now available to the general public.
Utes at active NFL stadiums
Utah enters Saturday’s game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle with nine straight wins at stadiums that housed NFL teams when the Utes played there.
2011 — Heinz Field (Pittsburgh Steelers): Utah 26, Pittsburgh 14
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