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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Keys to a Utah win against Cal

Both Utah and Cal have had their up-and-downs this year, but tonight I've got a feeling the Utes will be the ones up at the end of the game.

This is a must-win game for the Utes if they want to keep their bowl hopes realistic so look for them to come out motivated. The Utes have suffered from poor starts all season long but playing at home in front of a rowdy crowd should help the Utes, who have been outscored 62-28 in the first quarter.

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Here are a few other keys for a Utah win, other than a good start.

1. Get the run game going. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham called Kelvin York and John White "1A and 1B," this week and said he liked the idea of a 1-2 punch with them. Perhaps using them in such a way will bring some life to the Utes' run game, which ranks next-to-last in the Pac-12 averaging just 105 yards a game. York is a more physical runner than White so perhaps his size can help him be more successful than White has been.

2. Get some interceptions. This is a common theme for the Utes, who have just two interceptions this year. Cal quarterback Zach Maynard seems vulnerable, throwing eight interceptions this year. Course as much as the Utes have talked about the need for interceptions, the one thing they can't do is try too hard, take some unnecessary risks and make mistakes that lead to big passing gains.

3. Keep going to Jake Murphy. Murphy is turning into one of Travis Wilson's favorite targets, with the two showing a chemistry similar to the one former quarterback Jordan Wynn and DeVonte Christopher had. If it's Murphy that makes the freshman quarterback feel confident, then by all means the Utes should get Murphy involved in the game as much as possible. The tight end is a big physical player at 6-4, 252-pounds and has shown the ability to catch the ball in traffic if necessary, something Utah's receivers have had trouble doing.

4. Finish. As Christopher so aptly put it, the Utes do a good job of moving the ball, then find a way to "mess things up for themselves." The Utes need to do a much better job of executing in the red zone.

5. Keep Keenan Allen covered. Allen leads the Bears with 56 receptions for 676 yards and five touchdowns. If the Utes can keep him under wraps, Cal's already struggling offense (25.6 points a game) will struggle, particularly since the Utes are solid against the run.

- Lya Wodraska



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