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Utah-BYU: QBs put their reputations at stake in big game
College football » Saturday’s game likely will be the last between Wilson and Hill.

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"He showed a lot of resiliency, throwing those picks then bringing us back late," Poole said. "He has a lot of self confidence right now, and it showed the way he is making better decisions."

As for Hill, he got his big win in leading the Cougars over Texas, but ending three years of misery against the Utes would eclipse the win over the Longhorns.

At a glance

Taysom Hill

So., 6-2, 221

Record as starter » 3-1

Biggest win » Led Cougars to a 40-21 win over Texas, running for 259 yards and three touchdowns.

Strength » An excellent athlete and one of the fastest players on the team, Hill is an explosive runner and an exceptional leader.

Weakness » Although he threw the ball well in wins over Utah State and Hawaii last year, Hill has yet to show that form this year, completing just 22 of 60 passes (33.3 percent).

 The X Factor » Hill has yet to play in a game this year when conditions were ideal for throwing the football, so judging his passing ability after two weather-delayed games is mildly premature. While Texas failed to make adjustments to take away his big running plays, Utah almost assuredly will pack the box and dare him to throw. Whether he can also could depend on the health of star receiver Cody Hoffman, who is nursing a sore hamstring.

Travis Wilson

So., 6-7, 240

Record as starter » 5-5

Biggest win » Led Utes to a 30-26 win over Utah State this year, throwing for 302 yards and two touchdowns

Strength » Wilson finally has given the Utes what they needed, a complete quarterback. Wilson has a strong enough arm to create some explosive plays downfield and is athletic enough to hurt teams with his feet as well.

Weakness » Wilson still is a young quarterback and still is going to make some bad decisions because of his inexperience. BYU can use this weakness to its advantage by getting pressure on Wilson and making him hurry, which could lead to mistakes.

The X Factor » Wilson has helped the Utes battle back from deficits against Utah State and Oregon State this year, so he is accustomed to playing in difficult situations and has responded well. Playing in Provo in front of a hostile crowd won’t be easy, but Wilson has proven he can handle the pressure, even when the Utes fall behind on the scoreboard.

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Hill, who played in six games before suffering a knee injury last year, has shown no ill effects from the mishap this year. He has beaten teams with his running abilities. The Cougars are averaging only 152 yards a game passing, but why bother going to the air when you have a steady guy like Hill making plays?

His 259 yards against the Longhorns was the second-most rushing yards in the program’s history, earning him numerous award recognitions and the attention of the Utah defense.

Utah senior Trevor Reilly likened Hill to Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton, who gained 85 yards on the ground against the Utes in the season opener. The difference is that Keeton is a more prolific passer.

Considering that Utah’s defense is once again stingy against the run — giving up only 96.7 yards per game — Hill may have to take to the air for the Cougars to win.

"It comes down to guys like Cody [Hoffman] and Skyler [Ridley]," Hill said. "They are going to have the opportunity to make plays outside, and I am going to throw the ball to them and let them do it. We need to get Cody more involved in the offense. Seems like anytime you throw to that dude, something good happens. So I am excited about it. I like our chances."

It’s good the your quarterback has confidence, since his reputation — and Wilson’s — rides on this game.

Reporter Jay Drew contributed to this report

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