What to expect from Stanford in Utah

Stanford is heading to a really tough place to play, after a really bad loss to WAZZU. Looking at this game, it’s tough as a player and a manager to blow yourself up for a week and then have to travel in a hostile environment against a very, very good team. Well, that’s what Stanford needs to do on national TV, because this game is televised on ESPN late at night.

Stanford will head to the 12th-ranked Utah Utes, what should fans expect from this game? Stanford is a 24-point underdog, and according to ESPN analysis, they have a 5.9% chance of winning this game, not good. Stanford’s record is 3-6 and Utah is 7-2 and looking to keep winning. Now, what will happen throughout the game?

Utah Attack vs. Stanford Attack

Looking at Utah’s offense, they’ve scored over 30 points in 4 of their last 5 games, 3 of those games were over 40 points. I can’t say the same for Stanford as they have scored more than 30 points in none of their last 5 games. Highest scoring for Stanford in the last 5 games was 27 with the other 4 games being 16 points or less. So, we can clearly say that Utah’s offense will score, while Stanford will try to keep pace.

Stanford needs to get creative offensively, their 22.9 points per game won’t be enough. They are also reduced to 1 fullback, which is a safety converted to running back. The offense is still using the slow-developing RPO which doesn’t match the personnel, they went a bit more under center last week against WAZZU. I would expect them to keep doing it so they have some sort of running game so that quarterback Tanner McKee doesn’t get hit like he was last week. I expect talented Stanford players like receiver Elijah Higgins and tight end Benjamin Yurosek to be the focal point of the offense. If you’re a Stanford fan, tamper with expectations, Stanford might get a chance to score 14 points in this game.

Utah’s offense is averaging 39 points per game, it’s a very balanced offense. They average 200 yards rushing and 254 passes. Going up against Stanford, I expect this offense to come close to or even exceed its season average. They will likely score 40 or more points based on past Stanford games. Utah is a very good offense, how are their two defenses matched?

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Utah Defense vs. Stanford Defense

To be absolutely honest, Utah is much better defensively. Utah is giving up 21 ppg while Stanford is allowing 31 ppg. Stanford’s defense can create a few saves at times, but the offense won’t capitalize or play free football. This is where Utah takes the lead and the offense goes to 3 because Utah’s defense is good.

Stanford’s defense will likely allow Utah’s 200-plus rushing yards and it could happen in the first half. Last week, Stanford gave up 192 rushing yards in the first half against an offense that struggled to get the ball running. They gave up 42 points in the first half against WAZZU. If they can’t stop the race against Utah, which likes to run the ball with several talented running backs and their quarterback Cameron Rising. Then Stanford’s defense will be in trouble and that might be an understatement. I’m sorry to all Stanford fans, this one can get ugly and ugly fast. That’s the reason I think Stanford should fire Shaw. if it gets ugly fast, the score can become embarrassing on national television.

Utah’s defense should be able to play on Tanner McKee since Stanford’s offense will be one-dimensional by only throwing the ball. They’re allowing just 21 points per game, and Stanford struggled to score more than 16. Utah’s defense is also getting the ball, with 10 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries. Their cornerback Clark Phillips, an NFL draft prospect, will likely be paired with Stanford wide receiver Elijah Higgins. If Phillips takes Higgins off, the defense won’t really have another talented player to worry about too much. Utah’s defense will be too much for Stanford’s offense.

What will Stanford have to do to upset?

They will have to play a perfect game. It sounds cliché, but it’s the absolute truth about what will have to happen. They will have to play their best game of the season and it’s hard to think they’ll be able to do that as they haven’t shown a full game all season. They showed flashes of good football in their wins, but they weren’t complete games from start to finish, outside of the Week 1 win over Colgate, which Stanford is much better than. Stanford will have to stop the race, which they cannot do. They haven’t done this all year, teams rush at them every week, and they allow more rushing yards per game than passing yards because teams prefer to rush 5 yards per carry rather than attempting a pass. It’s bad, really bad. Stanford’s offense will have to be innovative, but we already know that David Shaw has said he doesn’t plan to change his offense, looks like his “pride” might be in turning things around. I declare pride because Shaw mentioned that he wanted his players to be proud after losing WAZZU. Stanford will have to surpass Utah, however, I just don’t see that happening.

Final prediction

Staford loses this game by a big margin. Yeah, I know I sounded really negative about Stanford, but I promise I’m not doing it on purpose. I’m honest about what to expect. The team just doesn’t play football well, and Utah plays football really well. If I had to give a score prediction, it would be 45-13 in favor of Utah. Finally, Stanford could face a tough decision on whether to fire head coach David Shaw after this game.

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