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Stanford Football: Cardinal Head to Salt Lake to take on #20 Utes

A tough Utes defense face the best running back in the nation

Stanford v Utah Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

The Stanford Cardinal head to Salt Lake City to take on the #20 Utah Utes this Saturday October 7th . It will, per usual be a packed house with Utah having sold out 46 straight home games and wearing their throwback unis for their homecoming. This should be an interesting matchup of the two Pac-12 teams but here are a few things to consider:

Can Utah Stop the Love Run?

The Cardinal will be the biggest challenge thus far in the Utes’ schedule. Even if you live on the east coast, you are aware of Love’s numbers so far: 1,088 rushing yards through five games (fourth-most all time in FBS history), he’s averaging 50 yards per carry on his touchdown runs (50!), he’s broken the school’s single-game rushing yard record (301) last week versus Arizona State and averages 11.1 yards per carry.

The Utah defense has a stat on its own that’s impressive, allowing only 87 rushing yards per game. Although they haven’t come up against a player nearly as talented and skillful as Love, this should be interesting to see if the Utes can stop the holes and vision with Love on the ground. Utah’s defense is ranked #17 in the nation and have forced 14 turnovers on the season so far, holding opponents to an average 17.3 points per game.

Stanford’s Pass Game

KJ Costello has been solid after replacing Keller Chryst after his injury against UCLA. In his start versus Arizona State Costello completed 15 for 24 passes with 1 touchdown. The offense is still figuring out its rhythm but having JJ Arcega-Whiteside out this week is not the news you want to hear. Arcega-Whiteside leads the team in receptions, having only 13 receptions for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns for the season. The Cardinal will need Trent Irwin, Connor Wedington and Dalton Schultz to step up in his absence. Chryst, will be placed as the starter, but he must be accurate in the passing game to overcome sophomore defensive back, Julian Blackmon who leads Utah and is tied for fourth in the Pac-12 in passes defended (5). He is also tied for fourth in the Pac-12 with two interceptions. Expect KJ Costello to be on deck behind Chryst in case things go astray.

Can Chryst and Costello keep the momentum going for the Cardinal pass game? This is a major key.

Speaking of Replacements…

Senior quarterback Troy Williams will likely start this week for the Utes after replacing this years starting sophomore, Tyler Huntley versus Arizona. Huntley was injured in the second quarter and came out of the locker room with his arm in a sling. Should Williams be the starter (and most think he will be) he’s experienced and can still fit the high throw offensive that Utah has grown into. Williams stepped in and threw for 131 yards and 1 touchdown to help Utah beat Arizona 30-24. In 2016 Williams started all 13 games who’s a capable runner but not as electric as Huntley.

The key for Stanford’s defense will be to pressure the quarterback similarly to how Harrison Phillips did last week versus Arizona State. Phillips had 6 tackles and made life hell for the quarterback which is exactly the kind of pressure that’s needed this week to get Williams out of step.

Don’t Sleep on Carrington

The former Oregon Duck is tied for 15th in the nation in receiving yards (485) and has been high school buddies with quarterback Troy Williams, who helped convince Carrington to come to Salt Lake after his dismissal from Oregon. Carrington averages 121.3 yards per game. Coach Kyle Whittingham and the rest of the Utah faithful are hoping the two can carry on the magic against a tough Stanford secondary, led by safety Justin Reid. Reid has 3 interceptions in his last two games and will likely play a huge role in stopping Utah’s pass game.

There’s much to consider but this should be a good one. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2014 when Utah came to Palo Alto and beat the Cardinal 20-17. Utah leads the all time series 4-3.