In desperate need to get back on track, the Utah Utes face the Arizona State Sun Devils in a home Pac-12 Conference matchup Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (FS1).
Here are six numbers to know for the league contest.
After the heartbreaking loss to USC, punter Mitch Wishnowsky was rewarded for his efforts with a Pac-12 Player of the Week mention. During the USC game, he punted six times for an average of 46.8 yards a punt. He is second in the nation in net punting. Although, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and the boys would much rather not have punting be talked about as a focal point in any game.
The Sun Devils had a staple win last weekend against then-No. 5 Washington. Prior to the Washington game, Arizona State had allowed at least 30 points in 11 straight games. Arizona State shocked the Huskies, and most of the nation, with a 13-7 victory. Even with the Washington game in the books, the Sun Devils are still 100th in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 31.5 points per game.
Arizona State’s defense has been less than stellar in the first half of the season. The Sun Devil defense has only forced five turnovers on the season, and that's good news for the Ute offense that has turned the ball over five times in conference play alone.
Look for the Utah passing attack to have success this weekend. Who will play under center for Utah is still a question, but whoever takes the snaps should see some success through the air. The Sun Devils have allowed 14 passing touchdowns and only have two interceptions. The Sun Devil defense has also allowed a 63 percent completion rate for opposing passers. By comparison, Utah has allowed a 52 percent completion rate with seven passing touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The Sun Devil offense has not been overly effective either. Arizona State’s rush offense is averaging a horrific 2.8 yards a carry. That number puts its second to last in the nation in yards per carry. That's great news for Utah as the Ute defense has seen itself gouged for 570 rushing yards in last three conference games, and that's an unprecedented number for a team that on the season is averaging only 119 rushing yards allowed. Look for Utah to get back on track this weekend with stopping the run.
Utah should win this game. However, Arizona State owns the series. In the 28 games played between the two teams, the Sun Devils have won 20 (.714). However, Utah currently owns a two-game winning streak, and this weekend should make it three.
Prediction: Utah 38, Arizona State 27
Cameron Wood is a graduate of Weber State University and a teacher and coach at St. Joseph Catholic High School in Ogden, Utah. Email: [email protected]. Follow on twitter @camwood03.