Now that the Beehive Boot victor was decided last Friday, the top Utah college programs continue their schedule by facing top programs from the PAC-12 and WAC. Utah and Utah State are competing for the top spots in their respective programs.
Utah State has the best shot at a conference title, but needs to get a leg up on fellow competitor San Jose State. The Aggies will host the Spartans after the Logan team fell to BYU last week in a defensive battle that was broadcast nationally.
The broadcast displayed an Aggie defense unknown to many national spectators, and the additional exposure certainly helped their national profile. Winning the WAC before jumping to the MWC will only help.
Ever since head coach Gary Anderson was hired away from Utah, the school has seen a steady improvement in defense, culminating in this season’s high ranking.
The Aggies are allowing only 12.8 points per game, which puts them eighth overall in the NCAA. Before anyone argues they played a weak schedule, their record includes visits to Wisconsin and BYU as well as Utah’s visit to Logan.
San Jose presents a new challenge for the Aggies. While most teams Utah State has faced ran traditional power sets, San Jose State presents a potent spread pass attack, considered to be one of the most efficient in the country.
The Spartans sit at 4-1. Their one loss of 20-17 was to 17th-ranked Stanford. The schools share a common opponent in Colorado State, which they both defeated easily. The game can be seen on Altitude starting at 2 p.m.
The Utes will also continue their conference season by traveling to Southern California and facing the revitalized UCLA Bruins.
Under first year coach Jim Mora, the Bruins are playing the best football Pasadena has seen in several seasons.
While not currently ranked, the Bruins made enough of an impression to get placed in the national rankings earlier this season. Sitting at 4-2 overall, UCLA looks to even out its PAC-12 record after falling to Cal last week.
Utah needs to get their conference season started before they lose control. Opening with losses to Arizona State and USC put them in a difficult spot if they want to win the PAC-12 South. Jon Hays stepped into the starting role and has performed adequately, but the defense that was expected to dominate with Star Lotulelei has not effectively stopped the pass. Utah ranks 95th in passing defense, and UCLA boasts a top 20 passing attack.
Should the Utes make a stand against the Bruins, it will be seen by a national audience for a second consecutive week. The game will be part of a doubleheader on Fox, starting at 1 p.m.
For more information check out the Oct.11 edition Davis Clipper.