No. 15 Washington has fallen out of the derby for a College Football Playoff spot and isn’t even in the driver’s seat to win the Pac-12 North. The Huskies enter Saturday’s home game against Utah in a three-way battle with Washington State and Stanford and both those squads are better positioned to become the division’s representative in the Pac-12 title game.
Washington State claims the division with two wins (one would be over Washington) and Stanford’s victory over the Huskies last Friday gives itself a better chance but Huskies coach Chris Petersen said he’s not interested in the scenarios. “We just play. We got two more games and we’re focused on the next one,” Petersen said. “So two good teams coming and we’ll see what happens after this next week. It’s just about one week and if we start looking about championships and all that, your focus isn’t right.” Utah has been sliding in the wrong direction by dropping five of six games to follow a 4-0 start. The Utes are coming off a sloppy performance in which they committed seven turnovers (four interceptions, three fumbles) in a 33-25 loss to Washington State.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Washington -17.5
ABOUT UTAH (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12): Sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley (13 touchdowns, nine interceptions) is streaky and was picked off three times in the loss to Washington State one week after throwing four touchdown passes against UCLA. Senior receiver Darren Carrington II (58 receptions for 830 yards and six touchdowns) is Huntley’s favorite target, while sophomore running back Zack Moss (772 yards, seven touchdowns) is also enjoying a solid campaign. The Utes allow 24.1 points per game and Kavika Luafatasaga leads the unit with 66 tackles while fellow senior linebacker Sunia Tauteoli has a team-best 10 tackles for loss.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (8-2, 5-2): Junior quarterback Jake Browning failed to throw a touchdown pass in three of the past four games but his next one will break a tie with Keith Price (75 from 2010-13) for most in school history. Junior running back Myles Gaskin (1,038 yards, 13 rushing touchdowns) has topped 100 yards in five of the past seven games and is tied for the school record of 37 career rushing touchdowns (Bishop Sankey (2011-13). Junior defensive tackle Vita Vea (30 tackles, three sacks) is controlling the trenches and junior inside linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven has posted a team-leading 64 tackles for a unit that ranks fourth nationally in total defense (257.4 yards per game), and will be without senior linebacker Azeem Victor after he was suspended indefinitely due to a DUI arrest.
1. Washington has won nine of the previous 10 meetings, including a 31-24 win last season in Salt Lake City.
2. Huskies senior punt returner Dante Pettis had a game-winning 58-yard touchdown return in last year’s meeting, one of an NCAA-record nine during his career.
3. Utes junior K Matt Gay is 22-of-26 on field goals this season and has set a school mark with five from 50 or more yards.
PREDICTION: Washington 34, Utah 20