George Chen: Stanford 31, Utah 13
Phew, last week was close. A trip to Salt Lake this weekend won’t be easy for the Cardinal, but I think Kevin Hogan will bounce back on the road after the worst game of his career against Washington. That being said, Utah’s defensive line is scary good — the unit has recorded 18 sacks so far this season, good for second best in the nation — even with the loss of Star Lotulelei to the NFL. The Utes probably will be able to get some pressure on Hogan, but I think he’ll hang tough and be more patient with his throws. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson isn’t coming off his best game either, throwing for six interceptions (should’ve been seven) against UCLA last Thursday. The Cardinal secondary got burned a few times against Washington, so Ed Reynolds and company will have even more motivation to shut down the passing game. This is a game that Stanford should win by at least two touchdowns.
Sam Fisher: Stanford 38, Utah 24
There is only one relevant question to answer when deciding how to pick this matchup: Will Stanford rebound from a middling performance against Washington or will that game only be the beginning of a trend? I have a feeling that the competitive nature of David Shaw, Hogan and the rest of the Cardinal, combined with added anger over Steve Sarkisian’s fake-injury comments, will be enough to bring back the dominant version of this Stanford team. Both the Cardinal and the Utes are a bit banged up, but I think Stanford has the depth and the top-level talent to overcome those nagging injuries better than Utah. Hogan will bounce back from his worst game as Stanford’s starter in a big way, taking advantage of an overmatched Ute secondary with deep balls to Ty Montgomery, Michael Rector and Devon Cajuste. The Cardinal will win easily, but Utah will make the final score a bit more respectable in garbage time, where Stanford has allowed points all season long.
Vihan Lakshman: Stanford 35, Utah 17
Reynolds and company have to be licking their chops. While the Utes played UCLA tough last Thursday, the decisive factor in the game was Wilson’s whopping six interceptions. Like at Army and Wazzu, I have a feeling the Cardinal will start off with a lackluster first quarter as players get acclimated to the tough environment of Rice-Eccles Stadium. After that, however, I see the defense picking up right where it left off and extending its streak of games with a takeaway to 30. With the aid of Montgomery and the kickoff return unit, expect Hogan to be working with a short field for much of the game. At the end of the day, the Utes will be forced into passing situations to keep up with the Card’s balanced offensive attack. And when that time comes, Trent Murphy and the entire party in the backfield will arrive to put this game on ice.
Contact George Chen at gchen15 ‘at’ stanford.edu, Sam Fisher at safisher ‘at’ stanford.edu and Vihan Lakshman at vihan ‘at’ stanford.edu.