Two of the Pac-12's top defensive teams will face off when No. 13 Utah hosts No. 17 Arizona State in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
Both teams have earned five victories in their first six games by clamping down on opposing offenses.
Utah enters the game as one of just five FBS teams that rank in the Top 25 in total offense and total defense. The Utes have outscored opponents 89-29 after halftime this season. Their opponents have scored on four total second-half possessions over six games.
"Our coaches have done a nice job of coming in at halftime on both sides of the ball and making adjustments that need to be made," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We are not playing a lot of snaps on defense, which is keeping the guys fresh. Our offense is doing a good job controlling the ball in the second half."
The Utes are making their biggest impact along the line of scrimmage.
Utah is one of just two FBS teams to hold every opponent under 100 rushing yards to this point in the season. Not surprisingly, the Utes lead the Pac-12 in rushing defense (52.8 ypg) and rank second nationally.
Being stout against the run has led to success in other areas. Utah leads the Pac-12 in first-down allowed (87) and third-down conversion percentage defense (29.6).
Arizona State has shown a similar knack for stifling opponents. The Sun Devils rank right behind Utah in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense.
Arizona State is the only other Pac-12 team holding opponents under 100 rushing yards per game, yielding just 91.7 yards on the ground.
It isn't a one-dimensional attack either. The Sun Devils had 12 pass breakups in a 38-34 win over Washington State -- the second-most in a game by an FBS team this season and the most for Arizona State in a single game since 2000.
It helped the Sun Devils rally from a touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to get the win.
"That's who they are," Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said. "They're a resilient bunch."
While defense will take center stage on Saturday, offense will not exactly take a backseat for either team. The Utes and Sun Devils are benefiting from inspired quarterback play.
Tyler Huntley is off to an impressive start in his senior season at Utah. Huntley ranks third in the FBS in completion percentage (75.6) and ranks fifth in passing efficiency rating (187.6). He has thrown 133 consecutive passes without an interception dating to last year's game against Arizona State.
Huntley passed for over 200 yards for the 16th time in his career last week, totaling 247 yards and two touchdowns in a 52-7 win over Oregon State.
"We now have a whole half of a season's body of work to evaluate and you know to be at this juncture in the season and to be at that level is great," Whittingham said. "I can't give him enough accolades because of how well he is playing."
Jayden Daniels is also progressing nicely in his true freshman season with the Sun Devils. Daniels threw for a career-high 363 yards and three touchdowns against Washington State while connecting on 26 of 36 passes. It was his third 300-yard game in six career starts.
Daniels ranks third in the Pac-12 in total passing yards (1,610). Edwards credits the freshman's success with his ability to focus on being the best version of himself.
"I just need him to be Jayden," Edwards said. "I've always told players that. You just be who you are. That's always going to be good enough."
Arizona State leads the series 22-8. Utah is looking to snap a two-game losing streak to the Sun Devils.
--Field Level Media