Utah (6-2, 4-2)
Last Week: Utah had the college football spotlight to themselves on Friday night and made the most of it. They literally ran all over UCLA on the way to a 41-10 road win. Zach Moss had 211 of Utah’s 325 rushing yards on just 26 carries. Additionally, Moss ran the ball into the end zone three times. Quarterback Tyler Huntley wasn’t as dynamic as he had been the previous few weeks, but then again he didn’t have to be with Moss carrying the load.
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Strong defense has been the Utes calling card all season and last week was no different. They took advantage of UCLA’s fill-in quarterback, picking him off twice. The Bruins were only able to muster 291 yards of offense.
Their special teams were outstanding as well. Kicker Matt Gay was two for two on field goals including a 49 yarder. All-purpose player Britain Covey returned two punts for 66 yards. Best of all was the punting game, Mitch Wishnowsky kicked it away twice, averaging 47.5 yards and the punt team forced a turnover.
This Week: at Arizona State.
Note: The cream has risen to the top of the PAC-12 South. Utah’s offense has finally caught up to their defense. It was the Utes fourth straight week of scoring 40 or more points. Top FBS teams should be thankful that Utah had the back-to-back stumbles against the two Washington schools early in the season. This is a team the contenders don’t want to face. Should they get a rematch with WSU in the PAC-12 championship game, the outcome may be different.
Washington State (7-1, 4-1)
Last Week: Another elimination game, another big win, this time at Stanford. The Cougars went down by 14 points in the second quarter but fought back for a 41-38 win. They sealed the deal with a final minute, 42-yard, field goal by Blake Mazza.
Washington State’s Gardner Minshew put himself into the Heisman Trophy conversation with another huge game. The graduate transfer quarterback completed 40 of 50 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns. Both Dez Patmon (127) and Jamire Calvin (102) had over 100 receiving yards. Running back James Williams had 109 combined yards (30 run, 79 receiving) and a pair of touchdowns.
The defense had their struggles once again against big receivers. They gave up 323 passing yards and three touchdowns. In turn, Stanford was able to use the pass to set up 120 rushing yards.
This Week: vs California.
Note: Although their next three opponents before the Apple Cup game on November 23 are not pushovers, the Cougars should be heavy favorites to win. Cal has nowhere near enough offense to keep up with Wazzu this week. I’m not even sure their defense is good enough to hold down the scoring either. After winning consecutive make-or-break games, Washington State needs to avoid a mental let down. As the Bears showed last week, they are capable of pulling an upset.
* There will be one edition after the PAC-12 Championship game and one after the final Bowl game.