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GAME PREVIEW: (16) Utah vs. Wyoming

GAME PREVIEW: (16) Utah vs. Wyoming



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SALT LAKE CITY -- The No. 16 Utah Utes are coming into Saturday's game with a four game winning streak. The Utes (6-1, 3-0 MWC) haven't played extremely well, but have found ways to keep winning.

The Utes didn't move in the AP or Coaches' Poll but moved up in the BCS Standings to No. 16 after their 23-16 overtime win over Air Force. Head Coach Kyle Whittingham admitted that his team has some deficiencies but sees improvement each week.

Playing in their second of three straight home games, the Utes will be donning all black jerseys. In last year's "Blackout", the Utes beat TCU 13-10 in a battle of nationally ranked teams. This year, the Utes will be facing a team that is on the rise.

Wyoming (4-3, 2-1) has won 3 out of their last 4 games. Freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels led the Cowboys to 32.3 PPG in their 3 wins. Carta-Samuels threw six touchdowns and was only intercepted once.

KSL takes a look back and a look ahead as we prep for game day.

What did we learn about Utah vs. Air Force?

  • Utah has a good defense. The Utes only gave up 1 touchdown to the Falcons, and that came when the Falcons recovered a fumbled punt on the 11 yard line.
  • Utah needs to improve ball security after fumbling the ball 6 times
  • Eddie Wide is capable of carrying the load for the Utes. Wide has run for 100-plus yards in all four of his starts since Matt Asiata was lost for the season with a knee injury.

What questions do we still have about the Utes?

  • When will Utah's offense finally click?
  • Can someone on the Utes' roster field and return a punt without fumbling it?
  • Can the Utes rely on Joe Phillips to make a field goal from 40 or more yards out (or is it always 4 down territory until the kick is less than 40)?

What can Utah expect from Wyoming?

  • A very improved team from a year ago (thanks to new Head Coach Dave Christensen)
  • A rapidly improving young mobile quarterback (Austyn Carta-Samuels)
  • A strong linebacker core combining for 15 tackles for loss (Brian Hendricks, Weston Johnson and Gabe Knapton)

What can Wyoming expect from Utah?

  • Eddie Wide will get 18-20 carries
  • Terrance Cain will throw short passes (mainly to David Reed and Jereme Brooks)
  • The 8th best pass defense in the country (160.43 YPG)
  • A vanilla gameplan focused on improving ball security and putting confidence back in Terrance Cain

Miscellaneous:

  • Terrance Cain ranks third in the Mountain West Conference and 28th in the nation in total offense (255.7 yards per game).
  • Eddie Wide ranks second among the Mountain West Conference rushers in all games (75.6 yards per game) and MWC-only games (111.0 ypg). He leads the conference in yards per carry (6.1)
  • Senior David Reed ranks second in the MWC and 10th in the nation in receiving yards per game, averaging 99.3 yards. He is tied for third in the league and 21st nationally in receptions per game (6.43).
  • The Utes are looking for their 10th-straight sellout of Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday. Utah has drawn over-capacity crowds dating back to the first game of the 2008 season, averaging 45,506 during that time in a stadium that seats 45,017.
  • Utah has won 20 of its last 21 games and 27 of its last 29 games.
  • The only other time that Wyoming and Utah have played one another on Halloween was the first meeting between the two long-time rivals. That meeting came in 1904, and Utah won in Laramie by a score of 23-0. Wyoming played its first Halloween game back in 1896, winning on the road over Northern Colorado by a score of 10-6. Wyoming is 7-5-0 in Halloween games. The Pokes are 4-2-0 at home on Halloween. UW is 3-3-0 on the road in Halloween games.
  • The Cowboys and Utes have played two common opponents to date - Air Force and UNLV. Wyoming defeated UNLV, 30-27, in Laramie, while Utah won in Las Vegas, 35-15. The Pokes lost on the road at Air Force, 10-0. The Utes defeated Air Force in Salt Lake City by a score of 23-16, but it took Utah an overtime period to get the win.
  • This week's coaching matchup features two head coaches who have known each other for nearly 20 years. Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham coached on the same coaching staff together at Idaho State back in the early 1990s. Christensen was an assistant with the Bengals for the 1990 and 91 seasons, coaching the offensive line, tight ends and running backs during his two seasons in Pocatello. Whittingham served as an assistant at Idaho State for six seasons, from 1988-93. He was the linebackers and special teams coach from 1988-91 and was the defensive coordinator his last two seasons of 1992 and93.
  • Wyoming is one of the youngest teams in the country, having played 12 true freshmen and started six true freshmen in `09. The six freshmen starters tie Wyoming for the second most in the nation with Miami of Ohio. Texas A&M leads the way with eight true freshmen starters.

Conclusion:

The last two Wyoming-Utah games weren't much of a contest as the Utes outscored the Cowboys 90-7. That won't be the case Saturday as the Cowboys are a much improved football team from years past.

If the Utes can get their offense rolling they should be able to cruise to a comfortable win, albeit won't be a 40-50 point shellacking like the last two years.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. from Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. Follow the game on KSL.com by reading the live Game Blog beginning at 5:30 p.m.

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