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Ranking Utah’s 2017 Football Schedule: No. 3 Stanford

Utah v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Stanford at Utah

Saturday, Oct. 7

Salt Lake City, Utah

Get your ice bags ready, because a Utah/Stanford game will always bring the big hits. The Cardinal return to Rice-Eccles Stadium on October 7th, sandwiched between trips to Arizona and USC. The Utes are 2-0 over the Cardinal since joining the league, including a massive upset when Stanford was ranked No. 5 in the country in 2013.

A very talented Stanford team will be coming into Rice-Eccles, and one that finished the season with 10 wins last year, and that was a bit of a disappointing result for them due to a slow start. There’s a little bit of a question mark at QB for the Cardinal, as Keller Chryst hurt his knee at the end of the season last year, but they’ve said if he’s healthy, he’ll be the No. 1 guy. Stanford is talented behind him, especially with a guy like KJ Costello, who was a big time recruit coming out of high school. Stanford was dead last in passing yards per game in the Pac-12 last year and finished in the bottom half of the conference in pretty much every passing stat.

Christian McCaffery is gone, and stepping in is Bryce Love, who played quite a bit with McCaffery being banged up during stretches of last season. He racked up just shy of 800 yards on the ground with 3 touchdowns. Of course, it helps when you are behind a road grader of an offensive line, which Stanford will have because they always do.

Stanford wants to play the game in a phone booth, and Utah can match that with their physicality and defensive line.

On defense, Stanford has to contend with the loss of Solomon Thomas to the NFL. That’s a massive hole to fill for the Cardinal, and one they’ll have a hard time filling. The back end of the defense is stout though. At linebacker, Stanford has a lot of talent with guys like Joey Alfieri, Sean Barton and Bobby Okereke being names to watch. Stanford is very experienced in the secondary as well. Alijah Holder is one to keep an eye on, an all-conference guy, and one that makes this tough on a wide receiving corps. Quenton Meeks is another in the secondary worth noting.

Stanford, as long as they can replace two top 10 NFL Draft picks, is a dark horse contender for the Pac-12 North. David Shaw is a really good coach. Stanford has a lot of talent and track record of success. The Cardinal deserve the respect they have earned the hard way, and we have this as the toughest game at home for Utah in 2017. There are a few positives for the Utes though. They get an extra week to rest/prepare for this game because they get a bye before playing the Cardinal. Utah is one of the only teams in the conference that can consistently compete with Stanford’s physicality, meaning Stanford cannot always be the bully and assert their will on the Utes like they can on many other teams. It will be a dog fight in that game, and even the fans may have to ice up after the game.

Toughest Games in 2017 Countdown

No. 12 North Dakota

No. 11 San Jose State

No. 10 Arizona

No. 9 Arizona State

No. 8 BYU

No. 7 Colorado

No. 6 UCLA

No. 5 Oregon

No. 4 Washington State