The Washington Huskies head to Salt Lake City this week for Utah's first home game in the Pac-12 Conference.
Last week's win over Cal redeemed a Husky defense that many had considered porous and underachieving in its previous three games. With injuries to the front seven, Washington's defense will need another strong effort to combat Utah's physical offense.
In Week 5 of this season's NCAA Football 12 simulations, my Xbox 360 looks to end a two-week skid and predict the winner of the upcoming game.
In the opening sequence, cyber Brad Nessler characterized Utah as "comfortable favorites." He also said Utah linebacker Chaz Walker would disrupt the Washington running game.
The low-scoring game featured some early interception drops by the UW defense. Although four Huskies had over 20 yards receiving on the day, the offense couldn't get much going. At halftime, the score stalled at 3-3.
Despite a touchdown by Chris Polk in the second half, UW fell to Utah 13-10 in the end. Cyber Kirk Herbstreit said that Utah "made the plays they had to."
One key for Utah in this simulated game was receiver Anthony Denham, who caught 5 balls for 98 yards. Teams have picked on the UW secondary this season, and a game like this out of the Utah receiving corps will spell trouble for the Huskies on Saturday.
The young Husky defense will get even younger this week, as freshman Josh Shirley will start at defensive end. Other first-year players like Andrew Hudson and Danny Shelton will also see more playing time in Salt Lake City, as well as linebacker Jamaal Kearse, and this inexperience may prove too much for a road upset.
Despite Washington's dangerous offense, I see Utah squeaking out a 27-24 victory this Saturday.
Xbox Predictions this season: 2-2
Beswick Predictions this season: 3-1