Eighteenth ranked Arizona St. will play the Utah Utes on ESPN Saturday night at 10 pm Eastern/7 Central. Rice—Eccles Stadium will be hopping. Fans in the stadium and on TV should expect a fantastic game between two solid football teams. Arizona St. looked brilliant against Stanford last week. Utah looked no less impressive in a smashing victory over Southern Cal.
The Sun Devils are loaded on both offense and defense. They feature an offensive line that consistently opens up holes for the running backs. At times this year the o-line has even looked dominant, especially running the football. The running backs, three of them, are fast and quick to the hole. Jaydon Daniels, the quarterback, is equally fast, and capable of throwing the football with some success as well.
Defensively, the Sun Devils look much the same. The front four is stout against the run, but they get pressure on opposing quarterbacks as well. The defensive backs are very fast and physical. They are susceptible to big receivers, as the Sun Devil defensive backs are not particularly tall. Def. Coordinator Antonio Piece has a good feel in-game of dialing up blitzes as well as understanding what opposing offenses are capable of doing.
Head coach Herm Edwards has an energy that is just astounding. He has the Arizona St. program in the top 20, and they look capable of competing with top 10 teams. The things that could derail this team include passing inaccuracies, carelessness with the football, or an excessive number of penalties against a disciplined team.
The Utes are 3-2 this year, with the losses coming against ranked teams BYU and San Diego St. Utah always plays tough, any year, any team. This year’s version is no different. The defense has been consistent, if unspectacular. The Utes rank 41st in yards allowed per game and 57th in points allowed per game.
On offense, Utah has actually been inconsistent, struggling to establish a real identity. Of course, that also makes them difficult for opposing defenses to predict. At different times this year, the Utes have looked both good and bad at running the football and throwing it. Against the Trojans, they were able to do both successfully.
Playing at home, Utah should be an excellent challenge for Arizona St., and the score should be close. But the Sun Devils look to be the better team this year, more talented more consistent. Prediction: Arizona St.-35 Utah-24.
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