Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of Utah/ASU Game

Oct 14, 2021, 9:40 PM
Kyle Whittingham head coach of the Utah Utes talks with Herman Edwards head coach of the Arizona St...
Kyle Whittingham head coach of the Utah Utes talks with Herman Edwards head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Pac-12 showdown at Rice-Eccles Stadium between Utah and Arizona State could determine the winner of the South Division.

There is still plenty of football to play but if these two teams have the same record when the regular season is over, the winner of this game decides the tiebreaker.

Arizona State comes in with a lot more experience than when they played the Utes last in October of 2019.

Here are three storylines that could determine the winner of Utah and Arizona State on Saturday.

What’s At Stake In Conference Play

Arizona State has been tested in their first three conference games of the season, going 3-0 with wins over Colorado (35-13), UCLA (42-23) and Stanford (28-10). For Utah, they have two wins in conference play, beating Washington State (24-13) and USC (42-26).

Both teams have a lot of momentum coming in. You probably give Utah the slight edge in that department just because they are hosting ASU. With USC, Colorado and Arizona likely eliminated from contention for the Pac-12 South title, puts more pressure on this game on Saturday.

Winner will hold the tiebreaker if these two teams are tied for the top spot in the division when the regular season is over.

Run Game, Red Zone Opportunities

Arizona State is clicking on both sides of the ball. Their one hiccup was in Provo against BYU in which they committed a ton of penalties and couldn’t get a rhythm going on offense. The Sun Devils are third in the Pac-12 in total yards per game (440.7), seventh in passing yards per game (228.7), third in rushing yards per game (212) and fourth in points per game (33).

Meanwhile, Utah is slowly progressing with their offense after hanging 42 points in the Coliseum against USC. Currently, Utah is ranked seventh in the Pac-12 with 390 yards per game average. They are also eighth in the conference in passing yards per game (221.8), fifth in rushing yards (168.8) and sixth in points per game (30.8).

Whoever can get things clicking faster on offense and capitalize in the red zone should have a great chance of winning.

Which Defense Will Crack First?

This is not familiar seeing Arizona State thriving on defense but Herm Edwards has put a lot of emphasis on that side of the ball. ASU is leading the Pac-12 in total yards allowed per game (299), third in passing yards allowed (181.3), third in rushing yards allowed (117.7) and first in points allowed (16.2).

On the flip side, Utah has always been near or at the top of the conference in most statistical categories. This year they are third in the conference in total yards allowed (341.8), fifth in passing yards allowed (211), fifth in rushing yards allowed (130.8) and fourth in points allowed (23).

Utah and Arizona State will square off on Saturday, October 16 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. MT on ESPN.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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Three Storylines That Could Determine Winner Of Utah/ASU Game