SALT LAKE CITY – There's a logjam atop the Pac-12 South Division approaching the midseason mark with four teams sporting 2-1 conference records. No. 17 Arizona State and No. 14 Utah are two of those four, and they'll sort things out head-to-head Saturday when the Utes welcome the Sun Devils to Salt Lake City.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Utah -13.5
Both ASU and Utah are 5-1 overall, and the Sun Devils have made a habit out of winning close games, posting a 6-2 record in games decided by four points or fewer in the season and a half under head coach Herm Edwards, including a 2-0 mark this year. "One of the first things I said was, ‘I want a competitive consistency.' I think we have delivered that thus far," Edwards told the media earlier this week. "Now we have to continue to grow from that." The Utes also are rounding into form, looking very much like the team projected in the preseason to defend its South title after bouncing back from a 30-23 loss at USC to rout Washington State (38-13) and Oregon State (52-7) the past two weeks. "We are 5-1, and that would preclude us from getting an ‘A,' but I think we are trending in the right direction," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday at his weekly news conference. "It's not a huge sample of work, but I think we are starting to figure out who we are and that's what happens mid-year."
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12)
Freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels continues to impress, accounting for 386 yards of total offense and four touchdowns last week against Washington State, including the game-winning 17-yard run with 34 seconds remaining. All three of Daniels' TD passes went to wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who finished with seven catches for 196 yards, while tailback Eno Benjamin ran for a season-high 137 yards and a TD on 19 carries. Safety Evan Fields (team-leading 41 total tackles) and linebacker Khaylan Kearse-Thomas (team-most five tackles for loss) lead a defense which is allowing 17.7 points per game and has been better against the run (second in the Pac-12 with 91.7 yards allowed) than the pass (seventh with 262.8 yards surrendered).
ABOUT UTAH (5-1, 2-1)
Tailback Zack Moss played last Saturday for the first time since injuring his shoulder early in the Sept. 20 game at USC and rushed for 121 yards and two scores, including a 91-yard TD burst in the first quarter, at Oregon State. With the Utes up 35-0 at the break and en route to their most lopsided Pac-12 win ever, Moss sat out the second half, leaving him 55 yards away from passing Eddie Johnson as the program's all-time leading rusher. Quarterback Tyler Huntley completed 14-of-17 passes for 247 yards and two scores while Utah's vaunted defense, paced by cornerback Jaylon Johnson's eight total tackles and two passes defensed, limited the host Beavers to 217 total yards, including 48 on 22 rushes.
1. Arizona State has won six of the eight meetings since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011, including a 38-20 home win last Nov. 3 which saw both Huntley and Moss go down with injuries.
2. The Utes are one of six teams nationally to rank in the top 25 of total offense (25th) and total defense (10th).
3. Aiyuk's 196 yards Saturday were a career single-game high, and he ranks ninth nationally with 651 yards and five TDs on 31 receptions.
PREDICTION: Utah 27, Arizona State 16