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SALT LAKE CITY - Utah (3-4, 0-4 Pac-12) hosts Oregon State (2-5, 2-2 Pac-12) on Saturday, Oct. 29 in the annual Blackout game. Kickoff is 5 p.m. MT in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will be televised locally on KJZZ, as well as on ROOT Sports NW. There will be a live video stream on UtahUtes.com. Radio is ESPN700 AM (espn700sports.com), SIRIUS (113) and XM (191).
- Utah (3-4, 0-4 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (2-5, 2-2 Pac-12)
- Date: Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011
- Time: 5:00 p.m. MT
- Site: Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,017/FieldTurf)
- TV: KJZZ & ROOT SPORTS NW
- Radio: ESPN700, SIRIUS 113, XM 191
- Series Record: OSU leads 9-5-1
- Last Meeting: 2008 (Utah 31-28)
- Kickoff Weather: Sunny, temps in upper 50s
Utah trails the Beavers 9-5-1 all-time, but has won three of the last four, including the last two in Salt Lake City. The teams played 11 times from 1931-70 with OSU winning eight games, Utah winning twice and one tie. The 1931 and 1969 games were played in Portland. Most recently, they played home-and-home series in 1991- 92 and 2007-08.
Utah and OSU have played two common opponents this season in Brigham Young and Arizona State. Utah went 1-1, beating BYU (54-10 in Provo) and losing to ASU (35-14 in SLC). The Beavers were 0-2, losing to BYU (38-28 in Corvallis) and to ASU (35-20 in Tempe).
Utah went 3-0 in non-conference play, beating Montana State, BYU and Pitt, but is still looking for its first Pac-12 win.
Saturday's game is the fourth-annual Blackout game. The Utes will wear black uniforms and fans are encouraged to wear black attire.
Utah is 2-1 in Blackout games, with wins over TCU in 2008 and Wyoming in 2009, and a loss to TCU in 2010.
The last time these teams played, the No. 15-ranked Utes made a late comeback to knock off an Oregon State team that had upset No. 1 USC the previous week. All-American Louie Sakoda kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired in a 31-28 Ute win on Oct. 2, 2008 in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Oregon State leads the series 9-5-1, but Utah has won three of the last four including the last two in Salt Lake City (1992 and 2008). Oregon State leads 4-3 in Salt Lake City.
The last time the Utes lost their first four conference games was in 2002 as members of the Mountain West Conference. Utah won its final three games that season.
One of the best teams in the nation against the run, Utah ranks third in the Pac-12 and 15th nationally in rushing defense (99.4), holding four of its seven opponents under 100 ground yards: BYU (11 yards), Pittsburgh (70 yards), Arizona State (74 yards), Montana State (75 yards) ... Utah held Pitt's Ray Graham, the nation's second-leading rusher, to 46 yards--103 yards below his average coming into the game ... Utah is second in the Pac-12 in turnovers gained (16) and red zone defense (16-for-21, 76.2%), and is tied for second in interceptions (7) and opponent fourth-down conversions (4-of-11, 36.4%) ... The Utes rank third in the Pac-12 in several defensive categories: total defense (334.6/27th NCAA), scoring defense (22.4), pass efficiency defense (120.8), opponent first downs (132) ... Utah ranks 29th in the NCAA (tied for fifth in the Pac-12) in sacks per game (2.43).
Ute receiver Reggie Dunn originally signed with Oregon State out of high school. He later signed with Utah out of Compton Community College ... Dave and Joe Kruger's father Paul played for Oregon State, lettering in 1986 and '87 ... Brian Johnson, the quarterback who engineered Utah's dramatic come-from-behind 31-28 win over the Beavers in the 2008 Sugar Bowl season, is now in his second year as Utah's quarterback coach.
INSIDE THE HUDDLE
Griff Robles has officially moved back to quarterback, ending (at least for this season) his status as a linebacker. Walk-on true freshman Adam Shulz has changed his jersey number to 8 from No. 12, which he shared with Robles ... After last week's knee injury to senior linebacker Boo Andersen, Utah has now lost five key players to season-ending injuries: starting quarterback Jordan Wynn (shoulder), starting punt returner Charles Henderson (knee), co-starting fullback/tight end Dallin Rogers (knee), co-starting safety Keith McGill (shoulder) and frequently-used backup LB Andersen ... Wynn and McGill both had surgery last week and Rogers will have surgery today (Oct. 24) ... Utah hopes to have leading receiver DeVonte Christopher (ankle) back in the lineup for OSU. Questionable for Saturday is starting free safety Eric Rowe (knee) ... Utah has played five true freshmen this season: safety Eric Rowe, defensive end Nate Fakahafua, running back Harvey Langi, receiver/punt returner Henderson and receiver Quinton Pedroza.
OUTSIDE THE LINES
The Ute Walk begins at 2:30 p.m. on the corner of Guardsman Way and 500 South ... There will be a pre-game trick-or-treat zone in the south plaza of Rice-Eccles Stadium, where costumes are encouraged. Fans with the best black costumes in the trick-or-treat zone will be recognized at halftime. Members of Utah's athletic teams will be in the trick-or-treat zone signing autographs.
The Utes have sold out nine straight games, dating back to the 2010 season opener against Pitt; however tickets remain for this Saturday's game after OSU returned 700 tickets last week. Tickets may be purchased by calling 801-581-UTIX, online at UtahUtes.com and at the Rice-Eccles Stadium box office.
Utah's offensive struggles continued in San Francisco, where the Utes lost 34-10 to California. All of Utah's points came in the fourth quarter on a 36-yard Coleman Petersen field goal and a 14-yard run by John White. The Utes earned just 11 first downs (two in the first half) and committed four turnovers--one an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Even with White's 14-yard TD run, Utah finished with just 13 rushing yards. Brian Blechen had 10 tackles (2.0 for a loss) and Chaz Walker added eight tackles for the defense, which spent 35 minutes on the field. Trevor Reilly and Joe Kruger each had a sack.
Quotes from Kyle Whittingham's Weekly Press Conference
It's safe to say that was our poorest performance of the year against Cal. We didn't do too much on offense, and we reverted back to turning the ball over, which was a big disappointment. I thought we had gotten past that, but it reared its ugly head again. Cal got 17 points directly off those turnovers. We couldn't make first downs, we couldn't run the ball, we couldn't throw the ball. There were no redeeming qualities and we've got to get that fixed. We've got our work cut out for us. Special teams played well. Sean Sellwood punted well, and the first down on a fake punt was well executed. The defense was not bad. When you are put in the situation they were in and on the field as long as they were, it makes it difficult, but there are no excuses. The bottom line is that we have got to play better on defense.
Oregon State is coming off a big win over Washington State. Their quarterback is throwing the ball well, their receivers are very good and very talented, just like every weekend. That's the nature of this league. We've got them at our place, so that's a positive. We're excited to get back home. We've got to play much better in a lot of areas, particularly on offense. If we could not turn the ball over and score in the red zone, I think we're good enough to win every game, but we've got to get that done.
On Jon Hays' play against Cal:
The first thing is that we turned the ball over four times, all from the quarterback position. That's a big downer. On the positive side, we threw the deep ball well. I think we threw four deep balls and three had a positive result. That was good, but one of his interceptions he was hit as he threw, and the fumble was ball security. The question is how to generate more competition at quarterback. Griff Robles and Hays have a walk-on behind them. Tyler Shreve was really the three going into this week. It made more sense to stick with the redshirt plan. We've got to figure out a way to get better.
We feel Hays at quarterback gives us the best chance to win, and we still feel that way. If the practice week dictates otherwise, we'll adjust accordingly.
DeVonte Christopher (ankle) should be back. It was close last week, and the medical staff made the decision it was best to sit him out one more game rather than risk a setback. He should be ready. Eric Rowe sprained his knee, but we think he's going to be ok. We lost Boo Andersen for the year (knee).
On allowing sacks:
It's a combination of the offensive line, the quarterback, and blocking. At times Hays held the ball too long, at times the offensive line had breakdowns, at times it's been the blocking. It's been the running backs missing blitz pickups. The tight ends are also involved, and the receivers are also involved if they run incorrect routs and there is no one open, that can be a factor. We don't pin it on any one area, but you're right that we've been nowhere near as good as years past. We've got to get that corrected.
On going forward:
If you have to worry about the team getting up, you've got the wrong guys in the program. I'm hoping our leaders can step up and the competitive nature of everyone will come forward. There are a lot of positives that can still take place, but nothing is more important than this Saturday. We have to be ready to play and have the right mentality.