Having held off Washington's fourth-quarter comeback last week, No. 5 Stanford will travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to take on Utah Saturday in another Pac-12 college football showdown for the Cardinal.
Senior running back Tyler Gaffney's 11-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter was the difference for Stanford against the Huskies. The Cardinal (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the win at Stanford Stadium.
Utah is 3-2, but both of its Pac-12 losses to Oregon State and UCLA have been by seven points or less. In a 34-27 loss to then-No. 12 UCLA last week, the Utes shot themselves in the foot with six turnovers—all by sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson.
Let's take a closer look at the Pac-12 clash on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Saturday, Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. ET
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Betting Line (via Covers.com): Stanford -9
Stanford Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: LB Blake Martinez (Undisclosed), CB Deron Wilson (Foot)
Utah Injuries (via USA Today)
Questionable: LB Brian Blechen (Knee)
Top Storyline: Can Utah's Pass Rush Get Past Stanford's Offensive Line?
This is an interesting matchup. Utah leads the Pac-12 in sacks (18), while Stanford has allowed the second-fewest sacks in the conference with five.
The Cardinal allowed two sacks against Washington, but that was it.
UCLA star quarterback Brett Hundley's day against Utah was mixed. He went 17-of-27 for 211 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Utah's pressure seemed to get to him at times with the Utes collecting three sacks.
The Utes, who rank 74th in the nation in in yards allowed per pass attempt, can be hurt if they don't get to the quarterback, but their pass rush can complicate things for opponents when its rolling. Stanford's offensive line will be tested.
Prediction: Stanford 24, Utah 21
Who will win on Saturday?
Stanford's close win over Washington, coupled with Utah's close loss to UCLA, has some thinking there is upset potential here, and the fact that the spread is only nine points points to such a scenario.
It's also worth noting that Utah's defense ranks 17th in the nation in yards allowed per rushing attempt, and second in the Pac-12 in that category.
Coming off a mediocre performance against Washington, Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan may have to toss the ball around more than he's accustomed to against Utah.
But I like Stanford's defense slightly more than Utah's unit. The Cardinal offensive line should be able to slow down Utah's pass rush.
Stanford wins a squeaker in Salt Lake City.