The big question for Mountaineer fans entering the Heart of Dallas Bowl is “Can Chris Chugunov produce enough points in his first game with extended practices?” The Utah Utes defense looks like a team of two halves. In the first six games of the regular season, Utah gave up only 75 points, an average 12.5 points per game. A lot of that likely had to do with their opposition.
After their season opening cupcake game, the Utes took on the 124th worst scoring team in the nation in BYU. Utah held BYU, who averaged 17 points per game to 13. Game three was even kinder to Utah as they then played the 126th worst scoring offense in the nation, the San Jose State Spartans. Utah allowed the Spartans to outscore their season average of 15.8 points with a 16 point outburst.
Utah got a lucky break when it played the #6 scoring offense in the nation the Rich Rod led Arizona Wildcats. Utah played Arizona in game 4 of the regular season before Rodriguez realized what he had in Khalil Tate. Tate did not even touch the ball against Utah.
Utah did hold the #39 scoring offense (Stanford @ 32.0 PPG) to 23 points and the #24 scoring offense (USC @ 34.9 PPG) to 28. Both of these games resulted in losses to for Utah.
Over their last six games, Utah allowed 27.8 points per game while playing the #40 scoring O (Arizona State), #18 (Oregon), #29 (UCLA), #41 (Washington State), #17 (Washington) and #80 (Colorado).
The only game Utah beat a top 40 offense was the UCLA game in a game the Bruins were without their quarterback and likely #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, Josh Rosen. Rosen suffered a concussion the week prior and UCLA was only able to generate 17 points.
On the season, Utah has limited teams to 23.9 points. They have shown themselves to be a solid run stopping team, limiting rushers to 4.1 yards per carry and holding teams to 139 yards per game. In their 6 wins, Utah held their opponents to 606 yards, an average of 101 per game. Arizona was the only team to break 140 yards, putting up over 200 in a loss. In their 6 losses, Utah allowed 178 yards per game on the ground, buoyed in part by Oregon’s monsterous 347 yard performance. Still, the Ducks were one of four teams to break the 140 yard mark against Utah, all of them losses.
In their 6 losses, the Utes allowed an average 236 yards passing with USC and both Washingtons breaking the 300 yards barrier. In their six wins, Utah only allowed 191 yards per game with Arizona being the only team to break the 240 yard mark.