Time, Place and [Radio Waves in] Space • The Utes’ second Pac-12 Conference game of the season will take place in Rice-Eccles Stadium at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. You can watch on FS1 or listen on ESPN 700 AM, Sirius 145/XM 201.
Line • Stanford was a 4-point favorite as of Friday.
Opposing coach • David Shaw is in his seventh season as Stanford’s coach. He has at least one win in every Pac-12 venue except Rice-Eccles Stadium. Shaw has 67 career wins as Stanford’s coach, four shy of the program’s all-time record owned by Glenn “Pop” Warner. Stanford has won at least eight games each year under Shaw and 11 wins in four of the past six years. Shaw won Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors in 2011, 2012 and 2015. A former Stanford wide receiver, Shaw graduated from Stanford in 1995. His father, Willie, had two stints as a coach at Stanford from 1974-76 and from 1989-91. Shaw’s coaching resume includes stops with Western Washington and the University of San Diego as well as NFL stints with the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens.
Utah ties • Defensive coordinator Lance Anderson spent a season coaching outside linebackers at Utah State (2004), and he also played linebacker at Idaho State in 1993 and 1994. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham served as Idaho State’s defensive coordinator in 1993. … Stanford’s program includes six players from Utah. The group includes senior tight end Dalton Schultz (Bingham), senior guard Brandon Fanaika (Pleasant Grove), junior linebacker Sean Barton (Woods Cross), freshman linebacker Gabe Reid (Timpview), freshman fullback Houston Heimuli (Bountiful) and freshman running back Sione Lund (Brighton). On top of that, linebacker Levani Damuni (Ridgeline), wide receiver Simi Fehoko (Brighton) and defensive end Tangaloa Kaufusi (East) have each committed to Stanford and are all on LDS Church missions.
Pregame quotable • David Shaw on if Utah possibly starting Troy Williams instead of Tyler Huntley may change preparation, “For us, not too much. We’ve played better defensively, the last few weeks and we have to continue to work on our scheme, make sure that we’re tackling. We’ve been a better tackling team the last couple of weeks. We have to be a great tackling team to have our responsibilities nailed down. So really, our focus always has to be on us while we’re still game planning scheme versus scheme.”
Media guide nugget • Stanford players speak at least six foreign languages including French, German, Austrian German, Japanese, Samoan and Spanish.
Telling stat • Stanford has only committed five turnovers through the first five games of this season (three fumbles, two interceptions). Utah’s defense forced five turnovers in its Pac-12 opener at Arizona.
Cardinal offensive outlook • Stanford replaced the Pac-12′s leading rusher last season and the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft, Christian McCaffrey, with one of the most explosive players in the nation in running back Bryce Love. Love has already amassed 1,088 rushing yards in five games this season. Three quarterbacks have played in the first five games, and both Keller Chryst and K.J. Costello have attempted more than 50 passes. Stanford has averaged 188.4 passing yards per game. Four starters from last season returned on the offensive line along with tight end Salton Schultz. Stanford has certainly been a big-play offense so far this season. Its eight plays of 50 yards or more lead FBS.
Cardinal defensive outlook • Eight starters from last year’s defense that ranked among nation’s leaders in defensive touchdowns, sacks, scoring defense and passing efficiency defense. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips was a force last season with 46 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Phillips had a career-high 11 tackles against USC and followed that up 10 tackles against San Diego State. He also had a team-high nine tackles (one sack) last week against Arizona State. Senior linebackers Joey Alfieri, Kevin Palma, Bobby Okereke and Peter Kalambayi are all returning starters. Junior strong safety Justin Reid’s four interceptions are tied for third most in Football Bowl Subdivision. However, Stanford has allowed an average of 444.2 yards per game (6.2 per play) and given up 25.4 point per game. USC rushed for 307 yards against Stanford.
Cardinal special teams outlook • Stanford replaced record-setting place kicker Conrad Ukropina with sophomore Jet Toner. Toner has made 9 of 9 field-goal attempts this season. His longest attempt has come from 40 yards. Punter Jake Bailey has averaged 44.6 yards per punt with five punts (out of 18) of 50 yards or more. Stanford does not have a kick or punt return for a touchdown this season. Its longest punt return has been 18 yards.
Injury report • The Utes will likely be without starting quarterback Tyler Huntley after Huntley suffered a shoulder injury in the previous game at Arizona. Defensive ends Kylie Fitts and Bradlee Anae both also left the Arizona game with apparent leg injuries. Their status remains uncertain going into Saturday night. Utah has not provided any injury updates. Junior safety Marquise Blair will miss the first half due to a targeting penalty, not an injury. … Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst got clearance late in the week to play, and the school announced that Chryst will start, but K.J. Costello is also expected to play on Saturday. Chryst, a redshirt junior, suffered an undisclosed injury and did not play last weekend. Stanford also announced that junior wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will not play this weekend. Arcega-Whiteside leads the team in receiving yards (192) and is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns (two).
Three Big Questions
1. How well can the Utah defense contain Bryce Love?
Love has averaged 11.1 yards per carry this season and 217.6 rushing yards per game. He is the quickest Stanford running back to 1,000 rushing yards in a season (five games, 87 carries). The quickest a Stanford back had previous reached 1,000 yards was Christina McCaffrey in 2015 (eight games, 163 carries). Love already has six rushing touchdowns of 50 yards or more this season.
2. Does the Utah offense show any drop-off with Troy Williams at quarterback?
Tyler Huntley completed 73.3 percent of his passes this season and averaged 241.5 passing yards per game despite playing a little more than one quarter of the fourth game. Last season in 13 starts, Williams completed 53 percent of his passes and threw for an average of 212.1 passing yards per game. That was in a different offensive system prior to the hiring of offensive coordinator Troy Taylor and prior to the addition of all-conference-caliber wide receiver Darren Carrington II.
3. Will the return of Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst have a big impact on the game?
Keller Chryst played in each of the first four games, but did not play last week against Arizona State due to an undisclosed injury. His season high of 253 yards passing came in the season opener against Rice. Chryst has a 121.27 passer rating this season. K.J. Costello has played in three games and posted a higher completion percentage (63.5) and passer rating (143.2). Costello played in all three of Stanford’s wins this season.