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Stanford vs Utah: What to Watch for as the Cardinal heads to Salt Lake City

The Cardinal invades Rice-Eccles Stadium to take on the Utes for the first time as Pac-12 opponents

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Watch to watch for on Utah's side:

1. Travis Wilson's status. The Utah quarterback was under the weather a week ago, and struggled with the UCLA pass rush as well - both of which contributed to his six interceptions in the second half. Stanford's secondary has been so-so thus far this season, and a good day against Wilson could help the Cardinal regain a little confidence after being torched for 350 yards a week ago. On the flip side, if Wilson is fully healthy and able to connect with his receivers this week, the Utes will probably be able to move the ball with some consistency against the Cardinal D.

2. Trench Warfare. Utah's D-line put some good pressure on Brett Hundley last week, forcing him to make some bad throws and ultimately keeping them in the game, but they'll face a much tougher test this week against the Stanford o-line. If the Utes can get a little pressure up front and stifle the Stanford run game, they'll keep themselves in this game as well.

3. Trap Game Time. Utah and Stanford are both coming off tough, exhausting games - physical battles that definitely wore down both squads - so it's worth wondering if one or both of these teams will be hung over from last week's game. Because Utah had 10 days off and is playing at home, they'll probably have a spring in their step that could catch Stanford off guard.

Watch to watch for on Stanford's side:

1. Offensive consistency. Stanford's offense was stop-and-start a week ago, occasionally ripping off a good drive but also stalling against the Washington defense late in the game when it needed a good drive. The Stanford offense has to find a way to get the ball spread around to all of its playmakers and move the ball more effectively if it wants to be a top-flight team throughout the duration of the season - and the Utah defense provides the Cardinal a good chance to get back on track. The Utes give up 26.2 points per game (62nd in the nation), so they don't provide quite as much of a test as the stout Washington D.

2. Party in the Backfield. The Utes throw the ball only slightly more often than they run it, but they gained a meager 99 yards on the ground last week, so the run game isn't a huge threat to crush the Cardinal up front. With that said, the front seven can tee off on Travis Wilson all night to try and force big turnovers. UCLA's pressure up front was ultimately the reason that Wilson threw six interceptions, and I think the Cardinal should have even more success getting pressure than the Bruins did. I think this is going to be a huge game for Trent Murphy, who will be going against two tackles that simply cannot handle his strength and speed as a pass rusher.

3. Kevin Hogan tries to rebound. The redshirt sophomore QB had possibly his worst game as a starter a week ago (in a win, nonetheless) and he'll look to have a more solid game this week. I have to imagine that David Shaw will let him throw the ball some this week to let him regain his confidence in the downfield passing game, because he looked a little shaky the entire Washington game. I expect a return to form for Hogan this week.