ESPN's SP+ predicts outcome of top-20 battle between Washington, Utah
Bill Connelly’s SP+ expects Washington to get past Utah with relative ease.
The predictive model is calling for a 34-23 victory for the fifth-ranked Huskies this Saturday. It gives No. 18 Utah a 28% chance of pulling an upset on the road in Seattle. Here’s what Connelly wrote about the game in his Week 11 preview:
The Huskies rank a dismal 124th in rushing success rate, and if the Utes can use RB Ja’Quinden Jackson to play a solid ball control game, their risk-reward pass defense — fifth in passing success rate allowed but prone to the occasional big play — could easily make enough plays to scare the Huskies.
However, Washington can run, too! Dillon Johnson’s breakout performance against USC (256 rushing yards, four touchdowns) turned the tide against the Trojans, and while Utah’s pass defense is as aggressive as ever, the Utes rank just 42nd in rushing success rate allowed. Washington’s run game ranks sixth. Staying on schedule is of extreme importance against Utah — the Utes are first in passing downs success rate allowed and eighth in sacks per dropback — but UW might do that just fine.
The natural inclination would be to think Oregon pummeled Utah in Salt Lake City, and Washington is the only team this season to beat Oregon, so Washington should have minimal trouble with Utah in Seattle.
But the Utes pose a different kind of threat to Washington, one not felt by USC a week ago. The Utes are among the most physical teams Washington will play all season — if not the most. A 35-6 loss to Oregon at home several weeks ago was an embarrassment for the program, but Utah responded immediately with a 55-3 dismantling of Arizona State last weekend.
That game saw Utah run for 352 yards while holding Arizona State to just 83 total yards of offense. Whereas USC was content to leave its defense on the field for most of the game against Washington, Utah has the ability to control the clock.
Will it? Can it keep Michael Penix Jr. and the flourishing UW offense standing cold on the sideline? That’s the operative question.
Kickoff between the two teams is set for 12:30 p.m. PT on FOX.