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Ranking Utah’s 2017 Football Schedule: No. 9 Arizona State

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NCAA Football: Utah at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State at Utah

Saturday, Oct. 21

Salt Lake City, Utah

The Utes, after decades of struggles, have shaken the ASU monkey off their back after back-to-back wins over the Devils, with lasts year’s win coming in Tempe, Ariz. The Utes will taking on the Devils in late October, right after a matchup with USC in LA. The Sun Devils will be playing the Utes right after taking on Washington, and right before playing USC. That’s quite the murderers row of a schedule for ASU.

ASU is having a bit of a QB battle, with Manny Wilkins leading the group. Wilkins played against the Utes last year and wasn’t super effective (partially because he was on his butt for most of the game), but did rely on some of his playmakers to hurt the Utes. It’s between Wilkins and Blake Barnett, an Alabama transfer, for the starting role. Wilkins is super athletic, but I wasn’t surprised by his passing ability last year, as Utah dared him to throw.

ASU does have a stable of running backs they can lean on with Demario Richard, Kalen Ballage and Eno Benjamin. That’s a very talented group, and one that will challenge the Utes. Fortunately for Utah, the run defense is one of the staples of this team. Utah will have to contain the athletic receivers of ASU, especially N’Keal Harry, who was a big time recruit a couple of years ago, and tallied almost 700 yards receiving with 5 touchdowns. However, if Wilkins is the QB, I’m not too concerned with the passing game.

ASU featured one of the worst defenses in the country last year, especially against the pass. Their blitz happy defense was frequently shelled for big yards and a lot of points. With the amount of players they frequently blitz and a poor secondary, teams could torch them through the air. The Sun Devils do bring back a lot of starters and will look to turn the defense around in 2017.

With this game being at Rice-Eccles, I believe Utah is the more talented team, at this point in time, at least more complete, and should have a leg up on the Sun Devils for the third straight season.

Toughest Games in 2017 Countdown

No. 12 North Dakota

No. 11 San Jose State

No. 10 Arizona