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SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah improved to 1-0 on the young season with a 24-17 win over the Michigan Wolverines last week; the focus now turning toward the Utes' upcoming matchup with the Utah State Aggies Friday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
For the Utes, their win over the Wolverines was a classic case of the score being closer than the result, as Utah never trailed and led by as many as 14 points before allowing a late Michigan touchdown with under a minute remaining.
Things weren't as comfortable up in Logan, however, as Utah State needed an 88-yard punt return with five minutes left in the fourth quarter to take its first lead against in-state FCS foe Southern Utah. The Aggies squeaked out a 12-9 win.
Here is a statistical look at the matchup between the Utes and the Aggies:
1, 15 & 18
To call Utah State's opening game vs. Southern Utah a defensive struggle would be an understatement — more like defensive domination. Utah State was 1 for 15 on third downs, while SUU was actually worse — 1 for 18. The average distance to go on those crucial downs for the Aggies was 12, two yards worse than the initial 1st and 10. Southern Utah (and penalties) did a very good job of forcing Utah State to get behind in the down and distance.
Utah did a little better against Michigan, converting three of 13 attempts, while allowing Michigan to convert six of 15. Utah's average distance on third downs was 7.1, with all three conversions coming at third and three or less.
One is also the number of combined offensive touchdowns in the Utah State game, with the lone score going for Southern Utah. The Aggies did not have an offensive touchdown.
0, 5 & 8
Excitement always fills the stadium any time there is either a long rush or a deep pass. Utah's offense produced five rushing plays of 10 yards or more, while adding five passing plays of 15 yards or more. Utah finished the game pretty balanced offensively with 208 yards passing and 129 yards rushing.
But it was Utah's run defense that stole the show, giving up 0 rushing plays of more than 10 yards. Utah held the Wolverines to just 2.6 yards per carry. Michigan did convert eight passing plays of more than 15 yards, however.
Utah State, meanwhile, racked up five rushing plays of 10 yards or more and added just one passing play of more than 15 yards. Defensively, the Aggies allowed SUU to pick up five chunk plays — two rushes and three passes.
The stats don't lie; this week's intriguing matchup will be Utah's rush defense vs. Utah State's rushing offense.
24, 33 & 208
Senior quarterback Travis Wilson was the unsung hero for the Utes in week 1, completing 24 of 33 passes for 208 yards. Utah was 4-1 when passing for over 200 yards in 2014, and so far that trend continues on for another week. When all eyes were on running back Devontae Booker, Wilson was efficient, making key throws to Britain Covey and Harrison Handley down the stretch.
Aggie QB Chuckie Keeton struggled to get into a rhythm against SUU, going 16-33 for only 110 yards.
6, 11 & 123
Part of the reason the Aggie offense was never able to get going was the amount of penalties assessed to the team. Utah State was flagged 11 times for 123 yards — more yards than they had passing and almost just as much as they had rushing (140).
Utah was penalized six times against Michigan for only 55 yards, one of which was a drive extending personal foul call that led to Michigan's first touchdown of the night.
13, 14 & 112
Utah's series against Utah State is the oldest rivalry in Utah football history and 14th longest among NCAA FBS schools. The Utes have won 13 of the last 14 meetings against the Aggies, including seven in a row in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Friday's game marks the 112th game played between the two schools. Utah holds a series lead of 78-29-4. Robert Jackson is the cross platform sports and weather producer for ksl.com and KSL-TV.