1. Defensive Struggle?
This game profiles as perhaps the most difficult game left on Stanford's schedule, and a major part of that is the Utes' stingy defense. Stanford is 3rd in the nation in yards per play (4.11) while Utah is a respectable 32nd in the same metric (5.09 YPP), and they continually put themselves in low-scoring, winnable games. They held Arizona State's offense to just 19 points in an overtime loss. The Devils were last spotted doing doughnuts on Notre Dame's defense. And let's not forget that Utah was down by just three points against Oregon with 11 minutes to go in the 4th quarter... and that included the 14-point swing of a 99-yard fumble recovery. The Utah defense is like a long, heavy drizzle: eventually, it's going to make you miserable. Count on this being a low-scoring game.
2. Looking in the Mirror?
Stanford has made its bones over the last few years thanks to a strong power run game, and that's the Utes' calling card this season. Devontae Booker is perhaps the best back the Cardinal have seen this year aside from Buck Allen - and their stats are similar. Booker's rushed for 1,055 yards and eight touchdowns this season while Allen's notched 1,184 yards and eight scores. Why is that worth knowing? Because Allen rushed for 154 yards against Stanford, a team which was just dominated on the ground by Oregon's power run game. The Cardinal must slow down Booker if they want to control the pace of the game.
3. Offensive Execution
Lather, rinse, repeat. While the Cardinal's offensive execution has been substantially better in the last two games, Stanford's offense has scored just one touchdown in the last 6 quarters. Stanford scores touchdowns a mere 43 percent of the time it reaches the red zone. A comprehensive list of teams with a worse red zone touchdown percentage than the Cardinal:
Drop that to just "scoring percentage in the red zone" and the number changes: