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Utah football vs. BYU: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Utes battle Cougars

The Utah Utes walk to the field before Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl against the West Virginia Mountaineers on December 26, 2017 at Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Utah Utes walk to the field before Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl against the West Virginia Mountaineers on December 26, 2017 at Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)


SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has at three more games to play, and the first -- Saturday night’s Holy War home date versus BYU -- is the least important for the newly minted Pac-12 South champs. But that doesn’t mean the 17th-ranked Utes are going to blow off the annual nonconference rivalry contest with the Cougars.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Utah -11.5

 

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And, yes, that’s even with a date with either Washington State or Washington looming less than a week later in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Santa Clara, Calif. “As far as that strategy (of resting players in preparation for the conference title game), I don’t know what to say other than (making) the analogy to thoroughbred horses -- they love to run. They are born to run, and that is what they enjoy. Our players are warriors, and they enjoy competing,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday at his weekly news conference. “... So I don’t know how you sell that to your players, saying ‘hey, we are going to sit everybody and not give you a chance to finish the season.’ That’s a tough sell, particularly with the seniors.” BYU, meanwhile, is bowl eligible for the 13th time in the last 14 seasons, bouncing back under third-year coach Kalani Sitake from last season’s 4-9 finish -- the program’s first losing season in 13 years.

ABOUT BYU (6-5)

After a 3-1 start, which included a 24-21 win at then-No. 6 Wisconsin, the Cougars dropped four of the next five, but routs against Massachusetts (35-16) and New Mexico State (45-10) have followed the last two weeks to get BYU bowl eligible. Freshman quarterback Zach Wilson took over from benched senior Tanner Mangum for the Oct. 13 game against Hawaii, and has accounted for eight touchdowns while throwing only two interceptions on the season. Led by senior linebacker Sione Takitaki, who ranks 22nd nationally with 58 solo tackles, the Cougars’ defense ranks 23rd in the FBS in both total (327.6 yards allowed) and scoring (20.5 points) defense.

ABOUT UTAH (8-3)

After losing starting quarterback Tyler Huntley and tailback Zack Moss -- who had accounted for 84 percent of the team’s total offense over the first nine games -- to injuries over a rough five-day span earlier this month, freshman quarterback Jason Shelley and junior tailback Armand Shine have stepped in and stepped up. While completing only 50.7 percent of his passes since Huntley went down with a broken collarbone on Nov. 3, Shelley has averaged 267 total yards and has accounted for four TDs with no interceptions in his first two college starts. Shine, meanwhile, has rushed for 229 yards and a TD over the last two games to complement a defense which ranks in the top 16 nationally in average rushing yards (9.5), total yards (312.1) and points (18.5) allowed.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Utah has won seven straight against BYU, including a 19-13 road win last season, and leads the overall series 60-34-4.

2. Ten of the last 12 matchups in the series have been decided by fewer than seven points.

3. Freshmen have accounted for 149 (53.6 percent) of the Cougars’ 278 total points this season.

PREDICTION: Utah 20, BYU 10

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