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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utes closed out their non-conference slate with a commanding 26-10 win over Michigan last Saturday to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Now conference play begins as the Utes prepare to face Washington State at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday. The Utes have not fared well in conference openers since joining the Pac-12, dropping all three contests (see note 5 below).
Brush up on your barbecue skills and get ready to impress your friends up in the tailgate lot with these 10 things to know about this week's matchup:
- Utah (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) hosts Washington State (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) in Homecoming on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. MDT in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
- Kyle Whittingham's next win will be career victory No. 80 as Utah's head coach. Whittingham is 79-39 in his 10th season. He has participated in 164 wins in 21 total years on Utah's staff--including 10 years as an assistant coach--which is the most by any football coach in school history.
- The Utes are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2010, when they won their first eight games.
- Utah (3-0, 0-0 Pac-12) hosts Washington State (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12)
- Date: Saturday September 27
- Time: 6 p.m. MT
- Site: Salt Lake City
- Rice-Eccles Stadium (45,807/FieldTurf)
- TV: Pac-12 Networks
- Radio: ESPN700 AM and Sirius 139/XM 197
- Series Record: Utah leads 7-6
- Last Meeting: 2013 (WSU 49-37)
Utah had a two-game win streak against the Cougars snapped last November in Pullman to narrow its series lead to 7-6. The home field doesn't matter much in this rivalry: The series is tied 3-3 in Salt Lake City and Utah leads 4-2 in Pullman. The Cougars lead 1-0 in neutral site games, eking out a 31-28 win in the 1992 Copper Bowl on the arm of Drew Bledsoe.
- Utah received votes in both the Associated Press (31 votes) and USA Today Coaches' (8 votes) polls. Utah last appeared in the national rankings at No. 23 in the final 2010 Coaches' poll.
- Saturday's game against WSU is Utah's 2014 Pac-12 Conference opener. The Utes are 0-3 in Pac-12 openers, losing to USC in 2011 (23-14), Arizona State in 2012 (37-7) and Oregon State in 2013 (51-48 in overtime).
- Utah is tied for second in the nation and leads the Pac-12 in both sacks per game (5.0) and tackles for loss per game (9.7). Nate Orchard is tied for third in the nation in sacks per game (1.5).
- With 1,974 career receiving yards, Dres Anderson needs just 26 more yards to become the fifth receiver in school history to reach 2,000 yards.
- Washington State senior quarterback leads the NCAA with 1,901 yards through the Cougars first four games, 301 yards higher than the next highest passer (Clint Trickett, WVU).
- Washington State has turned the ball over twice every game this season, but only has three takeaways for a total turnover margin of -5 through four games. The Utes only have two turnovers with five takeaways through their first three games for a turnover margin of +3.
- Three Utes won national honors for their role in last week's 26-10 win over Michigan. Playing in his first game as a Ute, junior linebacker Gionni Paul was named the Athlon Sports National Defensive Player of the Week. Paul led Utah with 14 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in his first game in two years. Paul redshirted last season after transferring from Miami (Fla.) and missed the first two games this fall while recovering from a foot injury ... Andy Phillips, who outscored Michigan on his own by making field goals of 50, 48, 38 and 35 yards and hitting both PAT tries, was named a Lou Groza Star of the Week ... Kaelin Clay's 66-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave Utah a 10-3 lead over the Wolverines earned him the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Punt Returner of the Week.