Arizona-Utah Preview

BY foxsports • November 18, 2014

Arizona managed to keep its hopes of reaching the Pac-12 championship game alive last weekend, but it still needs to win its final two contests and get some help to make it to Santa Clara.

Utah would need an even more unlikely scenario, and the 20th-ranked Utes will try to do their part by beating the visiting No. 15 Wildcats on Saturday.

Arizona (8-2, 5-2) defeated Washington 27-26 at home last Saturday on Casey Skowron's 47-yard field goal as time expired to stay within one-half game of Southern California in the South Division.

The Wildcats, also 15th in the College Football Playoff rankings, are among three schools that are tied for second in the division, but there is a path to get to Levi's Stadium, albeit an improbable one.

Arizona needs a UCLA win over USC on Saturday and a UCLA loss to Stanford on Nov. 28 along with wins over Utah (7-3, 4-3) and Arizona State.

"It's always in the back of your mind, but it shouldn't be because none of that matters anyway. Right now, we're just trying to focus on the Utah game coming up this weekend," offensive lineman Mickey Baucus said. "We need a little help to win the South, but if we don't win the rest of our games, it doesn't even matter. We need to keep our focus on this week."

Like Arizona, Utah needed some late heroics last Saturday to keep its faint hopes alive, beating Stanford 20-17 in its school-record third overtime game of the season. Five of the Utes' conference games have been decided by three points or fewer.

"We haven't won every close game. We know that, but these guys believe that they are going to win every game that they are in," coach Kyle Whittingham said. "When it comes right down to the wire, there is a lot of belief on our team that they are going to get it done. And they have most weeks."

Utah, 17th in the CFP rankings, needs a four- or five-way tie atop the South to reach the championship game, and it has to beat Arizona and Colorado to have any chance of making that remote scenario come to fruition.

The Utes have lost their last two games against the Wildcats after winning three in a row, and they've been outplayed in the fourth quarter of both defeats. Arizona outscored them 15-3 in that period in a 35-24 home win Oct. 19, 2013, and rallied for a 34-24 win at Utah on Nov. 17, 2012, by scoring 17 unanswered points.

The Wildcats won't bring as potent of a rushing attack into this matchup after the loss of Ka'Deem Carey, who topped 200 yards in each of the last two meetings, but they do bring in one of the nation's top young quarterbacks in Anu Solomon.

The freshman is among the FBS leaders with 3,058 yards and 25 touchdowns, but he failed to throw a TD for the first time last week and was intercepted twice.

Keeping Nate Orchard away from him could prove one of the keys to a better performance this week. The defensive end's 16 1/2 sacks are tied for first nationally with Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha, and Orchard had three against Stanford.

Arizona sophomore linebacker Scooby Wright III is tied for third with 13 sacks, and he'll try to lead the Wildcats to their first nine-win season since they were 12-1 in 1998. Utah last won eight games in 2011, its inaugural season in the Pac-12.

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