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3-2-1, football: The Daily’s primer on the Pac-12 championship game

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Murphy

Washington defensive back Byron Murphy knocks Utah receiver Britain Covey to the ground the break up a pass in Washington's September win over the Utes.

It wasn’t how most expected, but the No. 11 Washington football team is back in the Pac-12 championship game against No. 17 Utah, in a rematch between the two schools. With a Rose Bowl berth on the line, the Huskies will look to beat the Utes a second time for conference supremacy.

3 numbers to know

6-1: The Pac-12 North has won the conference championship in all but one year in the 12-team era. Up until last season, when USC beat Stanford to claim the conference crown, the North was undefeated against the South with six wins.

In fact, the average score throughout the seven-year history of the conference championship game favors the North by roughly double the average score of the South: 39-21. That includes the Trojans win last season.

In Utah’s first conference title game, the Utes will look to buck that trend against the 2016 champs.

17.87: Statistically, the conference’s two best defenses will face off this Friday in Santa Clara, Calif. when the Utes meet the Huskies. If you average both of Washington and Utah’s scoring defensive averages, it comes out to just 17.87 points per game. Both defenses rank in the top 20 in the country in that category, and rank near the top in total defense and rushing defense.

1: Only once in the seven-year history of the Pac-12 championship has there been a rematch in the game where the team that lost earlier in the season won the conference title game.

In 2014, after losing earlier in the season to Arizona, Oregon responded with a blowout 51-13 victory over the Wildcats to beat everyone on their schedule. There has been a rematch in the Pac-12 title game in five of the seven games, with this week’s game being the sixth. In every Pac-12 title game so far, the higher ranked team has won.

2 players to watch

Britain Covey

Yes, he had a tough game against the Huskies in Week 3 this season, but Covey has quietly been one of the Pac-12’s best playmakers this season. He’s the Utes leading receiver by a large margin, with 58 catches for 605 yards, and he also has 184 yards rushing on just 19 attempts.

Another thing to watch out for with Covey: He is 3-for-3 passing for 71 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a trick play threat waiting to happen, and the Huskies will have to watch out for him wherever he lines up on Friday.

 

Bradlee Anae

The Pac-12’s leading sacker, Anae is coming off of maybe his best game of the season, where against BYU, he tallied seven total tackles, and grabbed a sack en route to a good defensive performance for the Utes.

Pressuring Jake Browning has been a key factor in whether or not opposing defenses can stop the Huskies offense, and if Anae can get pressure on Browning in the Pac-12 title game, it could spell trouble for the Dawgs’ chances.

1 recap of last week

It didn’t start off very well for the Utes last week, but ultimately, Utah was able to come up with a 35-27 victory over rival BYU. Falling behind 20-0 at the half, the Utes were able to come from behind in a huge victory over their rival, even though it didn’t mean anything in terms of their conference title hopes. Having already clinched the South championship, Jason Shelley passed for 141 yards and a touchdown, and scampered in from 33 yards out on a rush for the game-winning touchdown.

Since losing to Arizona State in Tempe, the Utes have rifled off three consecutive wins against Oregon, Colorado, and BYU to end their season.  

Reach Assistant Sports Editor Alec Dietz at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @AlecDietz

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