No. 22 Utah (7-3, 4-3 Pac-12) at No. 17 Arizona (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12)
Kickoff: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. MST.
Venue: Arizona Stadium.
TV: Pac-12 Network.
Radio: ESPN 700 AM/92.1 FM.
Series: Utah leads 26-19-2.
Weather: Cloudy with temperatures in the low 70s at kickoff.
For Utah: The Utes are coming off of a 35-28 loss at No. 5 Washington in Seattle. Utah is 2-2 in its last four contests, with wins over USC and Arizona State and losses to Oregon and Washington. Utah has won six straight over Arizona.
For Arizona: The Wildcats are coming off a 34-31 victory at Colorado on a game-winning field goal. Arizona has won its last four games, including a win over Oregon State.
What to watch for
Utah’s offense was excellent in the first half against Washington, gaining 306 yards and 28 points in taking a 28-24 halftime lead. But as explosive as the Utes were in the first half, Utah was shut out in the second half, gaining only 76 yards of offense.
Starting hot on offense, and staying consistent, is going to give Utah the best chance to win against a talented Arizona offense playing in front of what should be a good crowd at Arizona Stadium.
Look for offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig to try and get Utah’s offensive playmakers — Devaughn Vele, Landen King, Sione Vaki — involved early, just like he did against Washington. Utah will go up-tempo at times, and will try and get Ja’Quinden Jackson and the run game going early.
Arizona’s defense has been stout against the run, ranking No. 13 in the nation in opponent rushing yards per game (99.4), but has been a little bit more vulnerable against the air, ranking No. 81 in opponent passing yards per game (235.3).
The Wildcats are the No. 37 scoring defense in the nation, allowing just 20.9 points per game, so Utah’s offense will be facing a tougher challenge than it did last week.
Noah Fifita, Arizona quarterback: Since taking over the starting quarterback job in Week 5 after Jayden de Laura was injured, the redshirt freshman has been excellent and has earned the starting job even as de Laura is healthy.
The nephew of former Utah defensive tackle Steve Fifita, who starred on Utah’s undefeated 2004 team and won defensive MVP honors at the 2005 Fiesta Bowl, has led the country’s No. 24 passing offense.
Fifita has thrown for 1,735 yards and 16 touchdowns with four interceptions on 73.7% accuracy this season, throwing for 278 passing yards per game in leading Arizona to 31.1 points per game.
Fifita’s two favorite targets are Tetairoa McMillan (860 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 61 catches) and Jacob Cowing (534 yards and 10 touchdowns on 72 receptions).
“I think they’re doing a great job, I’ll tell you that. I mean, he’s got that thing turned. I mean, he started from scratch and rebuilt it his way and they’re playing really good football right now.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on Jedd Fisch
“They are the reigning champions. They’re the two years reigning Pac-12 champions. We need everybody focusing on one thing and one thing only. And that is Utah football and trying to have the best Arizona football program we can have to go beat Utah’s football team and we are going to give them everything that we have.” — Arizona coach Jedd Fisch
Utah: vs. Colorado on Nov. 25.
Arizona: at Arizona State on Nov. 25.
- Aug. 31 — Utah 24, Florida 11.
- Sept. 9 — Utah 20, Baylor 13.
- Sept. 16 — Utah 31, Weber State 7.
- Sept. 23 — Utah 14, UCLA 7.
- Sept. 29 — Oregon State 21, Utah 7.
- Oct. 14 — Utah 34, Cal 14.
- Oct. 21 — Utah 34, USC 32.
- Oct. 28 — Oregon 35, Utah 6.
- Nov. 4 — Utah 55, Arizona State 3.
- Nov. 11 — Washington 35, Utah 28.
- Nov. 18 — at Arizona (12:30 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network).
- Nov. 25 — vs. Colorado.