- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014

No. 23 Utah (8-4, 5-4 Pac-12) vs. Colorado State (10-2, 6-2 Mountain West), 3:30 p.m. EST (ABC)

Line: Utah by 3

Series record: Utah leads 55-22-2


Utah and Colorado State used to be Mountain West opponents, but the Utes moved to the Pac-12 in 2011 and are playing in their first bowl game after a two-year absence. The Rams are gunning for their first 11-win season since 1997 and would love nothing more than to defeat a team from one of the power conferences.


Utah’s pass-rushing defensive front versus Colorado State’s passing offense. The Utes led the country with 52 sacks, and defensive ends Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick will have to find a way to contain Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson, who threw for more than 3,700 yards and 32 touchdowns. Together, Orchard and Dimick had 27.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss.


Utah: Orchard led the country with an average of 1.46 sacks per game. He’ll be matched against Rams left tackle Ty Sambrailo, whom coach Dave Baldwin predicts will be a first- or second-round pick in the NFL draft. Orchard is fast and physical, and his ability to pressure Grayson will bear watching.

Colorado State: WR Rashard Higgins had seven consecutive games of 100 yards receiving, making him a potent offensive threat. His ability to get open quickly could play a major role in nullifying Utah’s physical pass rush.


Utah sold out its allotment of 7,500 seats in just a few days. . Colorado State is 16-4 over its past 20 games, but it’s worth noting that the Rams didn’t play a ranked opponent this season and have lost their past 15 games against Top 25 teams. . Utah quarterback Travis Wilson, a junior, has 40 career TD passes and finished this season with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. He didn’t throw a pick in his first eight games. . Colorado State is making consecutive bowl appearances for the first time since 2002-03.

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