The number-10 ranked Washington Huskies play their first true road game of the year when they travel to Rice-Eccles Stadium to take on the Utah Utes, a Pac-12 rival, on Saturday (10 p.m., ESPN). Oddsmakers have tabbed the Huskies as strong six-point favorites on the road, while the betting total is listed at 47.5 points.
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The Huskies and the Utes have played some exciting games over the last three seasons, with Washington emerging victorious in two. The average margin of victory has been less than seven points, with the deciding scores all occurring in the fourth quarter. With Utah having the home-field advantage, history says that the Huskies should be on upset alert.
Both Washington and Utah have been a bit sluggish on offense to start the year. The Huskies supposedly had the best quarterback-running back combo in Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin at the start of the season, but they’ve been largely held in check through two games. Browning has completed less than 60 percent of his passes and has already thrown three INTs, while Gaskin is averaging a pedestrian four yards per carry (128 yards on 32 attempts).
Meanwhile, Utah managed just 17 points against Northern Illinois last week, but that was on the road. However, the true strength of the Utes is their stalwart defense, which is currently seventh in the nation is points per game allowed, and first in passing yards per game allowed as well as yards per play allowed. Tyler Huntley will have to make his throws count in this game against a tough Washington defense, but he’s been fairly sharp so far. His receivers not named Britain Covey, on the other hand, have been lacking. They dropped a combined six passes last week alone. Expect Zack Moss to get a few more handoffs than he did last Saturday as a result.
Utah has lost eight of its last 11 in conference play, but the average margin of defeat is just 7.88 points, according to oddsshark.com. That’s led to a 6-4-1 record against the spread. Overall, the Utes are 4-1 against the spread in their last five, while the Huskies are 1-4 against the spread in the same span, with an identical record in their last five road contests.
Washington outlasted Utah 33-30 at home last season; a more experienced Huskies team might manage a similar result despite the switch in venues. But this should be a close game from start to finish, and one that Utah could win with a little luck as six-point underdogs.
Prediction: Washington wins, 27-24
The play: Utah +6