By Tony Castricone (photo credit: Scott Eklund)
September 11, 2018

Here’s how to tune in to the Pac-12 opener against Utah this weekend:

DATE: Saturday, September 15, 2018
KICKOFF TIME: Scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT, 8:05 p.m. MT (with a potential five-minute slide)
ON TERRESTRIAL RADIO: KOMO Newsradio AM 1000/FM 97.7 in Seattle and other affiliates around the Pacific Northwest
ON SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 146, XM 382.
ON MOBILE APP: iPhone | Android | TuneIn
ON DESKTOP/LAPTOP: https://gohuskies.com/sports/2016/8/16/live-audio.aspx
VIDEO: ESPN/Watch ESPN app

STRIKING SIMILARITIES – BATTLE OF THE BACKS
It should be interesting to see how both teams’ starting quarterbacks and running backs fare in this weekend’s game. Utah QB Tyler Huntley and RB Zack Moss are both returning starters, much like UW’s Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin.

Both teams’ offenses have been disappointed with their production through the first two weeks of this season despite bulging stat sheets. The Utes racked up almost 600 yards of offense against FCS Weber State, but had a hard time feeling good about it because of four turnovers. UW ripped off 632 total yards against FCS North Dakota, the ninth-most in Husky history, yet failed to generate a consistent ground game until the fourth quarter and have given the ball away four times through two games.

Both offenses struggled to score in their lone road game, with Utah winning at Northern Illinois 17-6 while the Huskies fell to No. 9 Auburn 21-16.

Both quarterbacks had big games in last year’s 33-30 thriller in Seattle, a game which Washington won on a last second field goal. Huntley threw for 297 yards in last season’s contest, while Browning went for 354 and helped lead the Huskies back from seven down in the final two minutes. It was the fourth-best passing game yardage-wise in both QBs’ careers.

Both tailbacks, meanwhile, struggled to get make a big impact on the ground. Moss and Gaskin had almost identical rushing numbers. Moss tallied 17 carries for 55 yards for the Utes. Gaskin totaled 17 rushes for 52 yards.

Finally, both teams pride themselves on their defense. Utah is ranked fifth in the nation in scoring defense through the first two weeks of this season, allowing just 8.0 points per game. The team that finished fifth in the nation in that category last year? Yep, Washington.

SAMPLE SIZE
Washington starting tight end Drew Sample is on pace to have by far the best season of his career. He came into the 2018 campaign with just 21 career receptions (five as a freshman, nine as a sophomore and seven as a junior). However, the senior from Bellevue has already accumulated five catches for 51 yards this year.

That said, Sample hasn’t seen paydirt since 2015. Both of his career touchdown receptions have come against schools from the Beehive State. His first score was against Utah State in week three the fall of his freshman year. His only other touchdown was at home against Utah that same season, when the Huskies fell 34-23 against the 13th ranked Utes.

With All-Pac 12 candidate Hunter Bryant out with an injury to begin the season, Sample has been the go-to tight end early in the year. The only tight end other than Sample to receive a pass through the first two games in freshman Cade Otten, who has one catch for a one-yard touchdown.

Sample and tight ends coach Jordan Paopao both got married this past July within eight days of each other.

DAWGS EXPECT SOME RICE-ECCLES HECKLES
The University of Utah will celebrate its 11th annual blackout game on Saturday night. The Utes will wear all black jerseys, pants and helmets, and the school is encouraging fans to wear all black to the game, which will be played under the lights in the black of night.

Husky safety Jojo McIntosh is excited about the atmosphere, and maybe even a little jealous of the unis the Utes will wear:

Utah is 8-2 all-time in blackout games. The lone losses came to TCU in 2010 and UCLA in 2013.

Rice-Eccles Stadium will celebrate its 53rd consecutive sellout. While seating capacity is 45,807, the last time the Huskies played there in 2016 was the largest crowd for a conference game in Rice-Eccles history, with 47,801 in attendance. The only larger home crowd in Utah football history was for their 2015 season opener against Michigan, when 24 more bodies squeezed in the facility.