TUCSON (AP) – After two unbalanced wins, the Utah Utes are set to win the Pac-12 South.
Coach Kyle Whittingham knows it. His players know it.
It does not mean that they are discussing it.
“We never talk about it in meetings and we just say we’re in a good position,” Whittingham said. “It’s as close as we come to talking about ranking and we just know that the key to everything is that we control our fate. That’s the main thing, that we are able to control our fate and not depend on it. from someone else.
Utah (6-3, 5-1 Pac-12) will look to maintain control of the division when it moves to face Arizona (1-8, 1-5), which ended a streak of 20 back-to-back defeats by beating California last. weekend.
The Utes can win the South Division with a victory over the Wildcats and a victory for Washington over Arizona State.
Arizona are a team that are just happy to get a win, even if it was against a COVID-19 exhausted California team that was missing seven starters and 24 players and coaches in total. It was first-year coach Jedd Fisch’s first victory and a big boost for a program that hasn’t won since October 5, 2019.
“I love the way our team plays, but we also know that there is a very, very good team from Utah that plays really good football,” said Fisch. “We have our challenge ahead of us and we look forward to it.
Arizona has suffered numerous quarterback injuries this season, but has had some success on the court against California, running for 202 yards on 52 carries.
“This game has to give them confidence and they have won the victory and I am sure they will do everything in their power to keep the momentum going,” said Whittingham. “Conversely, we will do everything in our power to try to win on the road.”
Sophomore Tavion Thomas had a huge game in Utah’s 52-7 win over Stanford last week, with a rush for 177 yards and four touchdowns in 20 carries.
Thomas struggled with fumbles early in the season and barely played in late September, but has reappeared over the past month as the team’s best option in the backfield.
“Well that was the level of talent that we saw,” Whittingham said. “His talent is very apparent and he’s got size, he’s got speed, he’s got quick and pretty much anything you want in a running back. At first, ball safety was not where it needed to be and we never considered giving it up.
PROTECT THE PLUMBER
Will Plummer has had a somewhat difficult season struggling with steals and injuries.
But right now, the Arizona quarterback has a lot of job security. This is because there are not a lot of other options.
The team’s other two main quarterback options – Gunner Cruz and Jordan McCloud – are sidelined for the year with injuries. The Wildcats have Jamarye Joiner, who played a quarterback early in his college career before becoming a wide receiver.
Plummer worsened a right shoulder injury when he was sacked in Game 1 of the second quarter against California, and he also suffered stitches to his right hand later in the second quarter.
“He’s obviously struggling with some issues from last week’s game,” Fisch said. “But I hope he will be good for the game on Saturday.”
The Wildcats certainly benefited from playing against a California team that had so many players in the COVID-19 protocol, but Arizona was heading in the right direction even before their long-awaited victory.
Arizona had lost their previous two games to USC and Washington by seven points and five points, respectively, indicating the breakthrough was to come.
A WHOLE CAREER
Whittingham is two wins away from becoming the all-time leader in Utes history.
Utah has been consistently good during Whittingham’s 17-year tenure with a 140-69 record. The Utes have enjoyed seven consecutive winning seasons since 2014 and have passed 0.500 in 14 of the 16 years.
Whittingham is also 11-3 in bowl games.
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