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No. 5 Washington faces next challenge in difficult final month hosting No. 13 Utah

No. 5 Washington (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12, No. 5 CFP) vs. No. 13 Utah (7-2, 4-2, No. 18), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)

Line: Washington by 9½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Washington leads 13-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

The latest obstacle in Washington’s quest for the College Football Playoff is yet another ranked opponent in a brutal November stretch run. Washington passed its first test last Saturday outlasting Southern California 52-42 in Los Angeles. Utah rebounded from its loss to Oregon two weeks ago by thumping Arizona State 55-3 last week. A win by the Utes blows open the race for the Pac-12 championship game while a loss likely ends their hopes at a three-peat as conference champs.

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KEY MATCHUP

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. vs. Utah’s top-ranked defense. Utah has the top overall defense, top pass defense and top scoring defense in the Pac-12, and rank in the top 10 nationally in run defense and scoring defense. Now here comes Penix and the Huskies offense that’s been held under 31 points once this season. Washington leads the country in passing offense at 383.1 yards per game and is fourth in total offense. Utah couldn’t slow down Oregon’s offense two weeks ago giving up 35 points and nearly 400 yards in that loss. Here comes another chance for the Utes against an elite opponent.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Utah: RB Ja’Quinden Jackson. One of the best ways to slow down Washington is to keep the ball away from its offense. Jackson can play a big role in that if he can continue his recent run of success in the ground game. Jackson has topped 100 yards in two of the past three games, including 111 yards rushing and a touchdown on just 13 carries last week against Arizona State.

Washington: RB Dillon Johnson. Johnson is coming off the fifth-best rushing performance in school history after he ran for 256 yards and four touchdowns in the win over USC. It was the first time in Johnson’s career he got more than 20 carries in a game and the second time reaching the 100-yard mark. The success Johnson had on the ground took some stress off Penix and Washington’s pass game that’s been at the forefront all season.

FACTS & FIGURES

First meeting between the teams since the truncated 2020 season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington trailed 21-0 but rallied for a 24-21 victory. Washington edge rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui had three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in that last meeting with Utah. ... Teams have played just nine times since Utah joined the Pac-12 in 2011. ... Utah leads the country in time of possession at 34:19 per game. ... Washington is 9-0 for only the fourth time in school history and first since 2016.

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