The Utes prepare to take on the Washington Huskies tomorrow night in Santa Clara for a chance to win the PAC-12, and earn an invite to the Rose Bowl. While the game will have several determining factors that will play out on the field, the matchup to watch will come down to Utah’s run defense, going up against senior Myles Gaskin.
The Utes currently have the 5th best rushing defense in the country, surrendering just 100.3 yards on the ground per outing. Meanwhile, Gaskin has his fourth 1,000 yard rushing season, the only PAC-12 player to ever achieve that feat during his career. Gaskin missed two games this season, and is averaging 107 yards per outing.
Perhaps concerning for the Utes is Gaskin’s only 100 yard outing through the Huskies first five games came against Utah in week three, when he recorded 143 yards in a 21-7 victory. Gaskin is also the type of running back the Jazz have struggled with, as a back who can attach the edges and show off his speed, a la Eno Benjamin at Arizona State.
Gaskin has recorded 100 yards or more in three straight outings, and four of five overall, and has scored five touchdowns on the ground in his last three outings, and six touchdowns overall.
If the Utes can limit Gaskin to under 100 yards, they’ll put pressure on Washington Quarterback Jake Browning to play at a high level in order to win the championship. With the Utes having recently found their stride in the pass rush with the emergence of Maxs Tupai, the more opportunities to attack Browning the better.
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