The Stanford Cardinal nearly recorded their first loss of the 2013 season last week, narrowly escaping the No. 15-ranked Washington Huskies 31-28 at home after a late fourth-down stop. This week, David Shaw must keep his team focused to avoid a trap game against Utah.
The Utes are off to a surprisingly great start. Currently standing at 3-2, Utah has defeated some solid opponents such as Utah State and BYU. Its two losses came against Oregon State and UCLA, and both were by only one score.
Stanford has looked as good as any team in the nation through the first six weeks of the season. After surviving their first true test of the season, the Cardinal’s schedule will remain tough for a while, and Utah cannot be taken lightly.
Leading the Utes on offense is young sophomore quarterback Travis Wilson. While the towering gunslinger has been productive this season, he has already thrown nine interceptions. The Stanford secondary, which has recorded only six interceptions so far, will need to take advantage of Wilson’s inconsistent throws.
Wilson has also already recorded five touchdowns on the ground, but Utah’s rushing attack is led by sophomore running back James Poole, who is averaging more than five yards per carry on the year. Like Wilson, Poole is productive but is not a huge threat to Stanford’s elite rushing defense.
On the other side of the ball, Stanford’s offensive line will need to keep Kevin Hogan clean. The Utes are currently tied for the lead in the conference for the most sacks with 18. The front wall is tough and Hogan is elusive, but this is certainly a matchup to watch.
Utah’s rushing defense has been decent all year, but its secondary has really struggled. The Utes haven’t been able to take advantage of the great pressure supplied by their defensive line, allowing nearly 275 yards per game through the air.
Stanford usually establishes the run game early and leans on it throughout the contest. This week might be different, however, as Hogan will likely be able to get the ball to his outside receivers such as Ty Montgomery and Devin Cajuste downfield.
The Cardinal will certainly enter the game as the favorite, but Utah will not roll over. The Utes have a strong team with plenty of young playmakers, and they’ll be excited to take on a team ranked as high as the Cardinal.
The game kicks off at 3:00 p.m. PT, so be sure to tune in.