The Utah Utes and the Arizona State Sun Devils will kickoff their Pac-12 Conference schedules when they clash on Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz.
Both squads are 2-1 coming into Week 4's matchup, but neither has won a road game yet this season, which will be the challenge for Kyle Whittingham's Utah program this weekend.
Arizona State is coming off a tough loss at Missouri though, and will be facing the pressure of avoiding a losing streak this September.
Here is everything you need to know for Saturday's showdown between Utah and Arizona State.
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
When: Saturday, September 22 at 10 p.m. ET
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Listen: ESPN 700 (Salt Lake City), KTAR 620 (Tempe)
Live Streaming: Pac-12.com
Betting Line: Arizona State (-7.5), according to Covers.com.
The top storyline heading into this Saturday's game is the balance of power in the Pac-12 South division. USC's loss at Stanford last weekend has opened up the standings for either Utah or Arizona State to capitalize on.
With the Trojans 0-1 in the Pac-12, either the Utes or the Sun Devils will elevate themselves to the top of the South division with a 1-0 start to conference play.
Who May Not Play for Utah
*According to USA Today
TE Westlee Tonga (Concussion), questionable for Saturday
DB Lewis Walker (Leg), questionable for Saturday
QB Jordan Wynn (Shoulder), out for season
DT Junior Salt (Foot), out for season
WR Anthony Denham (Shoulder), out for season
DB Keith McGill (Shoulder), out for season
OL Marc Pouvave (Achilles), out indefinitely
Who May Not Play for Arizona State
*According to USA Today
TE Max Smith (Back), questionable for Saturday
DT Corey Adams (Back), questionable for Saturday
CB Rashad Wadood (Shoulder), out for season
LB Carlos Mendoza (Shoulder), out for season
Neither team is ranked in the AP Top 25 coming into Saturday's matchup, but the winner will have a real shot at crashing the Week 5 rankings. Utah is already receiving votes after topping No. 25 Brigham Young at home last weekend, 24-21.
Arizona State's four-point loss at Missouri last Saturday definitely hurt their chances of earning a spot in the rankings, but they can still make a case with a strong conference win over the Utes this weekend.
What They're Saying
Utah quarterback Jon Hays, who stepped in two weeks ago after a shoulder injury knocked starter Jordan Wynn out for the season, is confident he can be the leader for the Utes this season (via UtahUtes.cstv.com per The Associated Press):
Having a leadership role was nothing new to me. It was just last year, deja vu, but I'm more prepared and my play showed. Now there are no more surprises.
Hays went 6-3 as a starter last season when Wynn suffered a similar shoulder injury.
Arizona State coach Todd Graham took plenty of positive from the Sun Devils' bitter loss at Missouri last weekend and is well aware of his team's challenge this coming weekend (via The Arizona Republic's Doug Haller):
It's a great learning experience for us. You put it behind you. We start conference play now. We got a heck of a defense coming in here in Utah. But I came out of this proud of our guys. We have heart, and when you have heart, you have a chance.
The Sun Devils came close to starting out 3-0 this year but can earn their third win overall and first Pac-12 win of 2012 at home Saturday night.
Utah Player to Watch
Senior quarterback Jon Hays had to step in under center two weeks ago when starting signal-caller Jordan Wynn went down to a season-ending shoulder injury in Utah's loss on the road at Utah State.
Since taking over at quarterback, Hays has completed 30-of-53 passes for 350 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. The California native was sensational against BYU last weekend, completing nearly 67 percent of his passes and throwing for two touchdowns.
Arizona State Player to Watch
Sun Devils running back Marion Grice has been an outright stud for Arizona State when he has touched the ball this season. The junior from Houston is averaging 6.8 yards per carry through three games this year and has five rushing touchdowns.
After carrying the ball 14 times against Northern Arizona in the opener, he has only received eight attempts in the two games following. He's rushed for 42 yards and two scores on those eight carries though. Keep your eye on the 6'0", 215-pound back on Saturday night.
The key matchup in Saturday night's showdown in Tempe will be between the Arizona State offense and the Utah defense. The Sun Devils rank 17th in the nation in scoring offense this season, averaging nearly 43 points per game and 54 PPG at home.
However, the Utes' defense is only allowing 16 points per game coming into Week 4 and held a BYU team 17 points under their scoring average last weekend. If the Sun Devils can move the ball and find the end zone early on at home, the Utes will be in for a long night.
On the Hot Seat
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham will be on the hot seat this weekend as his team is coming off its first loss of the season at Missouri, and taking on a Pac-12 opponent that it beat handily a season ago with Dennis Erickson as head coach.
The Sun Devils defeated the Utes 35-14 on the road last season, setting up a home matchup with Utah in which they are solid favorites. Graham will feel his coaching seat heat up if the Sun Devils don't get it done in Tempe on Saturday night.
The Sun Devils rocked the Utes by three touchdowns on the road a year ago, and have the advantage of playing in front of their home fans on Saturday night. The oddsmakers like Arizona State in this matchup and so do I. Graham's squad will produce too much offense for Utah to keep up with on the road.
Arizona State 34, Utah 21
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