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After a rash of injuries and a troubling offensive performance against UCLA last week, Utah is literally and figuratively limping to the finish line. The stakes have dropped for the Utes from a possible playoff berth to a wide range of bowl possibilities, but a win over "rival" Colorado Saturday on the way to a potential 10-win season would be a nice consolation prize. However, the Utes also need to avoid coming out flat against a competitive, if not successful, Colorado team. Here's a position-by-position look at this week's matchup and which team will have the edge heading into Saturday's game:


Travis Wilson's regular season career as a Ute comes to an end this weekend with a mixed legacy left behind at Utah. Wilson struggled in last week's loss to UCLA against a tough Bruins secondary, managing an ugly 110 yards passing on only 13 completed passes for zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, he's also been the catalyst in huge victories for the Utes this season like the win over Oregon and has helped shepherd the Utes into a new era of contention in the Pac-12. He faces the fourth best Pac-12 pass defense this week in Colorado and lost go-to receiver Britain Covey, but could still toss a couple of touchdown passes in his Rice-Eccles finale against a Buffs team that's surrendered 23 scores this year through the air.

This game would be significantly more intriguing if Colorado hadn't lost quarterback Sefo Liufau for the season two weeks ago. Redshirt freshman passer Cade Apsay will make the second start of his career this week against Utah after a rough outing against Washington State last week. Apsay attempted 40 passes good for 238 yards, but failed to get his team into the end zone while also tossing two picks. Utah's defense seems to be backsliding with injuries opening opportunities for Apsay, but Wilson still has the advantage this week.

Edge: Utah

Running back

Joe Williams inherited the mantle of Utah's next running back after Devontae Booker's injury ended his career as a Ute and early results look promising. Williams looked quick and explosive against the Bruins, racking up 121 yards on 26 carries to go along with Wilson's 67 yards on the ground. He fumbled once early on and was involved in a second fumble that ended the game for the Utes on a botched play action exchange with Travis Wilson, but should have success this week against a Colorado team giving up 197 yards per game on the ground.

Phillip Lindsay's role became even more important with Liufau out, as he'll have to shoulder more of the offensive load to help Apsay out this week. He rushed for 78 yards against Wazzu last week, bringing his season total to 605 yards and six touchdowns. The Utes were strong against Pac-12 force Paul Perkins last week, holding him to 98 yards and a touchdown to uphold their status as the best rush defense in the conference. Lindsay has more experience than Williams, but the Utes should be able to key on Lindsay defensively, giving Utah a slight edge here.

Edge: Utah

Wide receivers

Losing Covey for this game is another devastating blow for the already anemic passing game. Williams actually led the Utes in receptions with four, while Harrison Handley led the team with 32 yards. Kenneth Scott had only two catches for 14 yards in a disappointing senior campaign that sees him averaging only 38 yards per game and three touchdowns for the season. Colorado's stingy pass defense coupled with the loss of Covey could make for another long day for Utah's receivers.

Even with Liufau out, Nelson Spruce is still prospering amongs the best receivers in the Pac-12. Spruce caught 10 passes last week for 120 yards, bringing his season total to 84 receptions for 942 yards and three scores. The senior had five catches for 91 yards in last year's game against the Utes and should have similar success Saturday against a Utah secondary that allowed 220 yards passing to UCLA's Josh Rosen last week.

Edge: Colorado

Offensive line

The Utes had some struggles last week in pass protection against an injury-plagued UCLA defensive front seven, giving up two sacks. Starting as a source of strength and consistency at the beginning of the year, Utah's offensive line has now given up six sacks in the last two weeks. Colorado isn't exactly prolific at rushing the passer as the eighth ranked unit in the Pac-12 in terms of sacks, but Utah's recent poor play is a concern.

Colorado didn't help Apsay out in his debut, surrendering four sacks to Washington State. The Buffs are now 10th in the Pac-12 in terms of sacks given up with 35 this year. The Utes have struggled recently to generate sacks, but will be looking to tee off on Apsay to capitalize on his inexperience to force mistakes and turnovers. Utah has an advantage in this category.

Edge: Utah

Defensive line and linebackers

The pass rush has been almost nonexistent for Utah the last two weeks, with one combined sack against both Arizona and UCLA. Hunter Dimick missed the UCLA game and although the linebackers continue to play at a high level — Jared Norris and Gionni Paul combined for 21 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss against UCLA — Utah is struggling to make the impact plays they made earlier in the season. They'll have an opportunity to get on track against a lower tier offensive line this week and go out on a high note as several starters end their regular season careers at Utah.

Colorado struggled to produce any pressure against Washington State, bringing down Wazzu's passers only once. The Buffs have a pair of talented linebackers in Jimmie Gilbert and Derek McCartney — who have combined for 10 sacks and 102 tackles. Colorado will have its opportunities to pressure Wilson and could lock on Williams in the run game if he can't get the ball downfield. Still, Utah has a clear edge here with a big opportunity to wreak havoc against a freshman quarterback.

Edge: Utah


Utah's secondary struggled significantly early on against Josh Rosen, who dropped throws over the backs of Utah's corners consistently on UCLA's first touchdown drive. The Utes settled in after that, however, and improved to finish the game strong. Tevin Carter is out for this game, forcing the Utes to dig deeper on the bench for a starter at safety. Spruce presents a big challenge, but this game will come down to if Utah can keep Apsay uncomfortable.

Colorado's secondary is arguably the strongest unit on the team. The Buffs have allowed 23 touchdowns through the air, but have also nabbed 13 interceptions and hold opposing passers to only 227 yards per game. Colorado was shredded last week by Wazzu for 332 yards, but Wilson is no Luke Falk and Utah's passing game has been ugly at best and abysmal at worst recently. Cornerback Kenneth Crawley, who has 12 pass breakups, is a player to watch.

Edge: Colorado

Prediction: The Utes are limping to the finish line and have lost a the chance at a playoff berth, making this a potential letdown game. However, Colorado is relying on a freshman quarterback and is only 1-7 in conference play. Utah wins this one 35-13.