Will Utah avenge its lone Pac-12 loss from last season when it hosts Oregon State on Saturday?
The No. 12 Utes (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) suffered their lone blemish in league play a year ago after falling 42-34 in Corvallis. Utah enters the rematch on a three-game winning streak after dispatching Arizona State 34-13 in its Pac-12 opener. Cameron Rising threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns — completing 12 straight passes at one point. The Utes held the Sun Devils to just six rushing yards — seventh fewest in a single game in Utah history — and gave up only one touchdown for a third consecutive game.
The Beavers (3-1, 0-1) come into Salt Lake City fresh off their own impressive defensive performance. Oregon State held USC without a touchdown until the fourth quarter in a 17-14 loss to the Trojans. Turnovers ultimately foiled the Beavers' upset bid. USC scored 10 of its 17 points following interceptions. The Trojans were able to reel in four interceptions while finishing the game with zero turnovers.
Oregon State leads the series 12-11-1. Utah has won seven of the last 10 games between the two teams.
Oregon State at No. 12 Utah
When Oregon State Has the Ball
Chance Nolan had a tough 60 minutes against USC's defense. Nolan passed for 167 yards and tossed four interceptions while completing only 17 passes. In his first three games, Nolan had passed for at least 200 yards and had thrown seven touchdown passes against only two interceptions. The Beavers will need the junior to bounce back to keep Utah's defense from keying on stopping the run.
Losing tight end Luke Musgrave to injury hasn't helped the passing game. Musgrave had 169 yards on 11 catches in his first two games before getting sidelined. With no timetable set on his return, Oregon State needs to get more from receivers Tre'Shaun Harrison and Anthony Gould. The duo combined for just seven catches and 62 receiving yards in the loss to USC.
Deshaun Fenwick similarly struggled against USC. Fenwick took care of the ball, but he had a tough time moving the chains. He gained only 29 yards on 11 carries. The junior is a capable playmaker as evidenced by his 100-yard rushing game against Fresno State. If Fenwick is ineffective against Utah, Jam Griffin may get another shot to show what he can do. Griffin had a breakout performance against USC, averaging 7.0 yards per carry against the Trojans. The Georgia Tech transfer rushed for a career-high 84 yards.
When Utah Has the Ball
Losing Brant Kuithe to a season-ending knee injury against Arizona State dealt a significant blow to the Utah offense. The tight end led the Utes in receiving yardage in 2019 and '21 and was the team leader in receptions this season. He was an integral part of Utah's two-tight end sets along with Dalton Kincaid. The good news is Kuithe has a redshirt year available and could return to the Utes in 2023 if he chooses to bypass the NFL draft once again.
Kincaid will take on a greater role in Kuithe's absence. He already leads Utah with 240 yards and four touchdowns. Junior tight end Thomas Yassmin will fill Kuithe's spot at the other tight end slot. Yassmin had a career-long 72-yard catch against the Sun Devils and has the potential to be an explosive playmaker. As long as Rising remains healthy, both players will have a chance to make their mark.
A battle could be brewing in Utah's backfield again this season. Tavion Thomas seemingly secured his spot as the team's primary back after becoming a 1,000-yard rusher last season. But Thomas sat out during the first half against Arizona State due to an internal issue, according to Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham. Jaylon Glover, Micah Bernard, and Ja'Quinden Jackson shared the load with Thomas playing only the second half. Glover tallied 48 yards on 13 carries. Jackson slid over from quarterback to running back and will stay at that position through the rest of the season.
Oregon State will need another herculean defensive effort to hang with Utah. The Utes are going to make it extremely difficult for the Beavers to move the ball. Utah leads the Pac-12 in total defense (244.0 ypg) and scoring defense (14.0 ppg). Oregon State is capable of slowing the Utes with Kuithe out for the season. The difference for Utah though is a defense that has not allowed a touchdown in nine of the team's last 12 quarters of football.
Prediction: Utah 31, Oregon State 14
Podcast: Week 5 Preview, Predictions and Picks Against the Spread
– Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sports journalist based in Utah. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.
*Price as of publication.