SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this week, Kyle Whittingham threw some love in his Washington State counterpart's direction.

Speaking of Mike Leach, a fellow former BYU student, the Utah coach said, "Coach Leach is very well-versed in throwing the football, to say the least. He has a very good track record. He knows exactly what he is doing and how to coach it. He has a system he knows the ins and outs of, and he knows the right players to plug into the system. The results speak for themselves."

Leach returned the praiseworthy favor.

"He’s a good guy, sharp guy, knows about defense and does a good job,” Leach told The Spokesman-Review ahead of Saturday's Utah-Washington State game on Saturday.

The Washington paper noted that Whittingham, in his 15th year at Utah, and Leach, now in his seventh season with Wazzu, are the only Pac-12 coaches who graduated from the same school.

From the Spokesman-Review:

Whittingham’s teams at Utah are typically identified as tough and hard-nosed — particularly on the defensive side of the ball — and Leach suggests that could be a direct reflection of the man who’s leading them. Once upon a time, Whittingham embodied both qualities as an all-conference linebacker and former Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year at BYU.

"Of course his dad Fred was the defensive coordinator and one of the most steely, intimidating guys on earth,” Leach told the paper. "You’d walk on campus and LaVell Edwards would say hi to everybody and Fred, Fred just scared you. He was just imposing. And from what I hear, was one of the toughest guys on earth. Then there’s Kyle, so by association you tried to stay away from him, too, and so did most of the teams BYU played."

Leach joked that he never met Whittingham because the now-Utah coach "was busy being an All-American linebacker and leading the nation in tackles" while he was paying attention to his law school studies.

Spokesman.com also gave reasons why each team will win this matchup:

Why Utah will win: Kyle Whittingham brings the Football Bowl Subdivision’s top-rated defense to Martin Stadium this Saturday.

Why WSU will win: The Ute defense is elite, but the offense is clearly a work in progress. Utah has managed just 24 points in two games against non-FBS opposition, and the offense was held to 261 yards in the Pac-12 opener against UW.