#11 Washington (9-3) vs. #17 Utah (9-3)
Friday, November 30th @ 5:00 p.m. PST
Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, California)
Line: Washington -5.5
Radio: KOMO AM-1000/FM-97.7
The Washington Huskies will face off against the Utah Utes at Levi’s Stadium for the Pac-12 Championship on a neutral site.
Last weekend, the Huskies pulled off their biggest win of the season when they beat their arch rival Washington State Cougars.
This week, the Huskies will enter the Pac-12 Championship as the favorites, to take home the moniker of conference champions.
With a win, the Huskies would earn a berth to the Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day, which is a place they have dreamed about for years.
“I think everybody wants to do that, for sure. If you’re not going to the playoffs, everybody is very much dialed into the Rose Bowl. Especially with the history of this conference and the Rose Bowl, it would be an awesome, awesome game to go to.” Washington head coach Chris Petersen said.
In recent years, this matchup between the Huskies and the Utes has been extremely competitive, with most games going down to the final possession.
Earlier this season, the Huskies dominated Utah on the road in Salt Lake City and earned a 21-7 win, led by their suffocating defense.
The Utes have shown their toughness and resilience this season by battling through injuries, and getting to the Pac-12 Championship Game.
This game has all the makings of a classic heavyweight matchup as both teams boast the top two defenses in the conference.
KEY PLAYERS: WASHINGTON
QB – Jake Browning
Jake Browning is a four-year starter for the Huskies and played an efficient game against the Cougars, going 11 of 14 for 207 yards. He was able to extend drives and move the chains last week. Browning is at his best when the Husky offense is balanced, and he finds open passing lanes to throw into.
RB – Myles Gaskin
Myles Gaskin returned to the Husky backfield a few weeks ago and since then, he has notched three straight games of 135 yards or more rushing. Gaskin is the heart and soul of the Husky offense and it all starts with him.
LB – Ben Burr-Kirven
Ben Burr-Kirven was named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, given to the most outstanding defensive player in college football. He has notched 155 total tackles on the season thus far which is remarkable.
KEY PLAYERS: UTAH
LB – Chase Hansen
Chase Hansen is a senior who is one of the best linebackers in the country, in his first season at the position. He played safety for most of his college career and was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 defensive back in 2016. He currently leads the team in tackles with 101 total.
DL – Bradlee Anae
Bradlee Anae is a junior leads the Pac-12 with 8.0 sacks. His 13.5 tackles for loss stands fifth in the Pac-12 and second on the team. Anae leads the defensive line with 42 tackles. He also has three pass break-ups and a forced fumble.
WR – Britain Covey
Britain Covey is a sophomore who leads Utah in receptions (59), yards (631) and yards per game (52.6). Covey’s 631 receiving yards is his most in a season, and he also has five 100-plus all-purpose yards this season and eight in his career
– Washington has played Utah only 12 times (11-1), winning the first eight before taking a loss in 2015, with each meeting prior to the 2011 conference matchup in Salt Lake City coming in Seattle.
– Gaskin ranks No. 3 in Pac-12 history in both rushing yards (5,131) and rushing TDs (55), while Browning is sixth in Pac-12 history in passing yards (11,796) and touchdown passes (94).
– Including 2018, the Huskies have led the Pac-12 in total defense for four years in a row, climbing the national rankings each year, capped by a No. 8 national finish last season (UW currently ranks No. 14, entering the Pac-12 Championship Game).
– Utah has won seven of its last eight games since losses on back-to-back weeks against the Washington schools in September.
– Utah is 1-0 in Levi’s Stadium with a win over Indiana in the 2016 Foster Farms Bowl.
Heading into this game, the Huskies have a ton of momentum after their win last week in the Apple Cup. The offense has gotten a jolt lately from the return of sophomore Tight End Hunter Bryant, who seems to have been the missing ingredient all season. Earlier in the season, the Huskies were able to dominate the Utes on the road and hold them to only 7 points. The Utes are coming into this game with two key injuries at crucial positions on offense. Quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss are both out for this game with season ending injuries. Utah will be throwing out a true freshman quarterback onto the “primetime” stage, under the lights, against one of the best defense’s in the nation. Even though both teams have premiere defense’s, the decided advantage goes to the Huskies in this game. They have played in this game before and the coaches know how to settle their team into the moment. Also, I don’t see how Utah will be able to score enough points to keep up with the Huskies. If the Huskies held them to 7 points in their own stadium, then how will they score enough points this time around, without a starting quarterback and a starting running back. The Huskies have gotten healthy at the right time and Myles Gaskin is in full stride right now, which will open up the passing game for Browning to excel in this game. The Huskies simply have too much firepower right now with a healthy squad and will not let the Rose Bowl opportunity slip away from them. This has a carbon copy feel of the Pac-12 Championship game that the Huskies won 41-10 two years ago against the Colorado Buffaloes. Huskies win comfortably!
Washington 38 – Utah 13