No. 18 Utah looks to rebound at home vs. Arizona State

Field Level Media

November 01, 2023 at 3:28 am.

Utah will attempt to start another winning streak at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday when Arizona State visits after having its 18-game run ended last week in a 35-6 drubbing by Oregon.

The Utes (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) are rated No. 18 in the first College Football Playoffs rankings revealed Tuesday.

They did not score an offensive touchdown against the Ducks — the first time that has happened since 2018.

Utah finished with 241 yards of total offense and was relegated to two field goals.

The performance of Utah quarterback Bryson Barnes against Oregon was a topic of discussion in coach Kyle Whittingham’s news conference on Monday.

Barnes completed 15 of 29 pass attempts for 136 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions against the Ducks.

Whittingham was asked if he has considered giving backup quarterback Brandon Rose an opportunity to play.

Rose challenged for the starting spot after Cam Rising was ruled out to start the season because of a serious knee injury suffered last season in the Rose Bowl against Penn State.

“Whoever gives us the best chance to win is who we’ll try it out there, and if Brandon becomes that guy, then yes, that would happen,” Whittingham said. “But right now Bryson Barnes is our guy, and our No. 1 quarterback at this point in time.”

Arizona State (2-6, 1-4) is coming off the first Pac-12 win under first-year coach Kenny Dillingham, a 38-27 win over visiting Washington State last week.

The Sun Devils gained a season-high 509 yards with 235 yards on the ground.

Dillingham said Arizona State must continue to play with a tough, physical style with the run game and on defense to match the challenge Utah will present.

“This is the culture that we want, that I envision here,” Dillingham said of the Utes’ reputation of being stout on both lines and with their defense under Whittingham, in his 19th year as head coach. “A coach who’s established physicality in the program and toughness — that’s what we’re trying to build here.

“This is the gold standard in the league, in my opinion, for what a program should look like and should feel like.”

Dillinghman is counting on poised senior quarterback Trenton Bourguet and an improving defense to play well in another hostile environment after challenging Washington in Seattle two weeks ago before losing 15-7.

Arizona State practiced in its indoor facility this week with piped-in noise, similar to the week leading up to the Washington game.

“We went in the bubble,” Dillingham said. “We made ourselves deaf for five days. That is the only way to prepare is to practice. We go in the bubble, we play their fight song and we play crowd noise as loud as you possibly can till your ears ring.”

Arizona State did not allow an offensive touchdown against Washington.

Bourguet has only one touchdown pass with three interceptions while completing 109 of 171 passes (63.7 percent) for 1,196 yards.

The Sun Devils are No. 4 in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing 340.9 yards a game.

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