CORVALLIS, Ore. – No. 15 Utah returns from a bye and now faces seven straight weeks of Pac-12 games to finish the season. That stretch begins Saturday night when the Utes visit Oregon State for the Beavers' homecoming game.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Utah -13.5
Only three of Utah's final seven contests will be on the road, but all likely will be vital with each of the six teams in the Pac-12 South Division already owning at least one win. Arizona, at 2-0, and 2-1 USC lead the way atop the South with defending division champ Utah joining Colorado and Arizona State at 1-1. "Any time you go on the road in the Pac-12, it's a challenge," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday in his weekly news conference. "(Oregon State) is coming off a nice win and playing with some confidence. We're going to have to be at our best, no doubt about it." Oregon State, meanwhile, started the season 0-2 but has since won two of three, including a 48-31 road victory at UCLA last Saturday.
ABOUT UTAH (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
The Utes rebounded from their first loss of the season – a 30-23 setback at USC on Sept. 20 – with an impressive 38-13 rout of visiting Washington State on Sept. 28. Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley shook off a reported foot injury suffered versus USC to throw for a season-high 334 yards and account for four total touchdowns against the Cougars and ranks sixth in the conference in total offense at 267.2 yards per game. Linebackers Devin Lloyd and Francis Bernard average a combined 15 tackles per game for the Utes' defense, which ranks second in the Pac-12 in both points (14.4) and total yards (282.4) allowed per contest.
ABOUT OREGON STATE (2-3, 1-1)
Senior quarterback Jake Luton carved up UCLA with six total touchdowns Saturday, including five through the air, and has 14 TD passes with no interceptions on the season. Luton's top target has been wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins, who leads the conference with nine scoring grabs and his average of 126.4 receiving yards per game. Linebacker Hamilcar Rashed Jr. leads the Beavers with 45 tackles and a Pac-12-most six sacks, but Oregon State is allowing an average of 440.6 yards, including a conference-most 195.6 rushing, and 30.4 points per contest.
1. Utah has won four of the six games versus Oregon State as Pac-12 members, including a 19-14 road win in their last meeting in 2016.
2. Utah/Pac-12 rushing leader Zack Moss (98.3 yards, four TDs) has been out since injuring his shoulder in the first half versus USC but could return for Saturday's game. Expect a final decision during pre-game warmups Saturday.
3. Oregon State senior RB Artavis Pierce (96.4 rushing yards, five TDs) trails only Moss among Pac-12 rushing leaders and combined for 260 yards and three TDs in the last two weeks against Stanford and UCLA.
PREDICTION: Utah 28, Oregon State 16