The road to the Pac-12 South title still looks pretty good for Utah.
The No. 19 Utes rebounded from a Week 4 loss at USC with a 38-13 win at home against Washington State on Saturday night as Utah’s defense kept Anthony Gordon and the Washington State passing offense in check.
The Utes were the preseason pick to win the conference but stumbled at USC in a 30-23 loss. Saturday night, quarterback Tyler Huntley accounted for two passing touchdowns and two rushing scores while throwing for 334 yards on a Washington State defense that was blitzed for 50 second-half points in a 67-63 loss to UCLA in Week 4.
Washington State had a chance to pull within two scores in the fourth quarter while facing first and goal at the Utah 6. But the Cougars only got three yards on the first three plays and Julian Blackmon made a touchdown-saving tackle on Washington State running back Max Borghi on fourth down to give the ball back to the Utes.
That tackle came not long after Blackmon showed off his dance moves on the sideline earlier in the second half.
Gordon threw nine touchdowns in the four-point loss to UCLA. But he also had three turnovers. Saturday night, he threw just one touchdown and threw two interceptions. The second, which came with less than six minutes to go in the game after Washington State got the ball back after the failed goal-to-go possession, basically sealed the game.
Conversely, Huntley’s performance was one of the best of his career. It was the fifth 300-plus yard passing game of his career and his first of 2019. It was also just the fifth time that Huntley had scored four total touchdowns in a single game and he did it without wide receiver Britain Covey and running back Zack Moss. Both missed the Washington State game due to injuries.
The win was Utah’s first over Washington State since 2012.
A huge game with ASU looms for Utah
No. 21 USC lost on Saturday at No. 17 Washington to fall to 1-1 in the conference. That was big news for Utah, who loses the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Trojans. A loss to Washington State coupled with a win for USC could have effectively put the Utes three games behind USC just two games into the conference slate.
Instead, Utah is almost back to even in what’s already a bizarre Pac-12. Cal entered the weekend as the only undefeated team overall in the conference and promptly lost at home to Arizona State on Friday night.
The Sun Devils look like the biggest Pac-12 South challenger to the Utes and Trojans. That makes Utah’s matchup with ASU on Oct. 19 incredibly important, especially in a potential three-way tie scenario. An Arizona State win would put Utah at a disadvantage against both teams. That ASU matchup also precedes games against Cal and Washington, two of the three teams atop the Pac-12 North.
If Utah is able to get Moss back for those games, that’ll be a huge addition. Moss suffered a shoulder injury against USC, though he wasn’t missed too much against the Cougars as Devonta’e Henry-Cole had 15 carries for 79 yards. If Moss is able to come back and Huntley is able to produce like he did on Saturday night, then there’s no reason to think why Utah isn’t still the favorite in the South.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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