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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes wide receiver Geoff Norwood (16) is tackled by USC Trojans linebacker Anthony Sarao (56) and USC Trojans safety Su'a Cravens (21) during the first half game at the The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday October 26, 2013. USC is winning the game 16-3.
Analysis: Utah-Arizona State Position Preview
First Published Nov 07 2013 01:16 pm • Last Updated Nov 07 2013 11:27 pm

In a college football world where a team is only as good as its last win, Utah’s victory over Stanford seems like it was two seasons ago rather than last month. Since the October 12 shocking upset, Utah has looked listless and banged up, losing against an average Arizona team 35-24 and failing to score a touchdown for the first time since 2010 in an ugly 19-3 loss at USC. The Utes are up against another tough test this week, taking on Arizona State at Rice Eccles, a team that has scored at least 50 points in each of the last three weeks. Will Utah be able to recapture the magic and ability they showed against Stanford? Or will ASU extend its Pac-12 winning streak to four straight games? Here’s a position-by-position look at this week’s matchup and which team will have the edge heading into Saturday’s game:

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Quarterback

Travis Wilson’s hand is clearly bothering him more than he is letting on and has been a huge factor in his ineffectiveness over the last few weeks. Since the Stanford game, Wilson has completed only 8-of-23 pass attempts for 66 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Turnovers continue to plague the sophomore as he has thrown multiple interceptions in all of the Utes’ Pac-12 contests this year for a total of 14. The bye week should have allowed Wilson’s hand to heal and he should be better off this week, but if he’s not 100 percent, the Utes will struggle to keep up with ASU’s high octane offense.

Taylor Kelly has had his fair share of struggles this season, tossing four interceptions in ASU’s two losses this season, but the junior is rolling after a monster performance at Washington State. Kelly shredded Washington State’s secondary for 275 yards and five touchdowns through the air. He’s also a threat in the rushing game, scoring two more touchdowns against the Cougars on Halloween and five total rushing touchdowns over the last three weeks. Kelly has 2,511 passing yards, 28 total touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

Edge: ASU


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Running back

Utah’s success against Stanford was predicated on a strong running game, but that production has evaporated over the last two weeks. In losses at Arizona and USC, no Utah running back has rushed for more than 65 yards and only Kelvin York has scored (once, against Arizona). Bubba Poole leads the team with 495 yards rushing and the team has three viable rushers between Poole, Lucky Radley and Kelvin York, but Wilson has as many rushing touchdowns (5) as those three do combined. Utah will need to get the running game going to keep the ball out of Kelly’s hands.

ASU running back Marion Grice is largely ignored from a national standpoint, but the senior is a scoring machine and the focal point of the Sun Devil offense. Grice has scored multiple touchdowns in six of ASU’s eight games and leads college football in scoring with a mindboggling 18 total touchdowns. Kelly shouldered the offensive load against Washington State, but over the last three weeks, Grice has 454 total yards and five touchdowns.

Edge: ASU

Receivers

Dres Anderson, who looked so dynamic in the first few weeks of the season, has been limited severely the last two weeks because of Wilson’s injury. Against USC and Arizona, Anderson had only four receptions for 50 yards. In the mean time, guys like Sean Fitzgerald and Anthony Denham stepped up for a combined 124 yards and a touchdown, but the Utes will need more out of their receivers to keep up with the Sun Devils.

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