Washington, No. 9 Utah ready for Pac-12 title game rematch

Field Level Media

October 30, 2019 at 8:31 am.

Two weeks ago, Washington took a 35-31 home loss to then-No. 12 Oregon.

After a bye week, the Huskies (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12) will play host to No. 9 Utah (7-1, 4-1) on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s conference title game, which Washington won 10-3.

“We got some good work done,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said of the bye. “I think guys appreciated last week just in terms of how it went, the time off, the practices we did. Got a chance more than anything to get rested up. … It was good, and on to a really good, really good Utah team.”

The Utes are coming off a 35-0 victory against California, the first time they shut out a conference opponent since joining the Pac-12 in 2011.

With quarterback Tyler Huntley hobbled by a lower left leg injury, the Utes turned to record-setting Zack Moss, who rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

After becoming Utah’s career leader in yards rushing two weeks ago, Moss increased his total to 33 rushing touchdowns and surpassed Del Rodgers, who set the previous mark of 31 from 1978-81. Moss also reached 100 yards rushing for the 15th time, breaking the school record he shared with Devontae Booker and John White IV.

“It all feels really good, especially when it comes with winning,” said Moss, who also had three catches for 89 yards.

Moss said he drew inspiration from Huntley, who had been questionable to play.

“It makes you want to go harder,” Moss said. “I mean, the guy’s a warrior. He worked so hard to get ready to play in this game.”

Huntley threw for 214 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-17 passing in guiding the Utes to a 28-0 halftime lead. He sat out the second half.

“The offensive line was more determined to protect him and keep the hits off him,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said. “His toughness rubbed off on the rest of the team.”

Just as tough was the defense, which held the Golden Bears to 33 yards of total offense in the first half.

The Utes have allowed only 10 points over their past 3 1/2 games, the lone touchdown coming in the final minute of a 52-7 victory at Oregon State.

“We know what we’re after,” said Utes defensive back Terrell Burgess, who had a team-high six tackles against Cal. “We’re just trying to make sure we make this season special.”

One key Saturday could come on third down.

Utah is allowing opponents to move the chains on just 26.3 percent of third-down attempts, which ranks third in the nation and first in the Pac-12.

The Huskies, who led the conference in third-down conversion percentage last season, are last in the Pac-12 this year — and 106th nationally — at 35.4 percent.

“We just have to hold each other accountable, and it starts with the leaders of the team,” Washington senior center Nick Harris told the Seattle Times. “We’ve just got to make sure everybody’s mind is still set (on winning). We have to have some pride and some dignity.

“Even though (a Pac-12 title) might not be an option anymore, we’ve still got a lot of football to play. So we’ve got to hold each other accountable in that department, and we’ve just got to make sure we attack every week the same.”