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Pac-12 Championship game: Clash of the defenses

Utah players light the U as they defeat BYU at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018. Utah won 35-27. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – No. 17 ranked University of Utah football has always been known for its defense. It is one reason they will be playing the Pac-12 Championship game on Friday.

The opponent? The No. 10 ranked Washington Huskies, who beat the Utes earlier in the year.. Both of these teams come in boasting the top two defenses in the conference.

“It’s interesting, but that’s how I think of championship football,” said Washington head coach Chris Petersen. “I think it comes down to defense. Everybody likes to talk about offense, but I think really, really good football teams come down to defense.”

The Utes give up the second least amount of yards of 315.8 yards per game. The best team is Washington at 311.3 yards per game. Both teams are coming in with some momentum. The Huskies beat Washington State 28-15 and only gave up 237 total yards.

The Utes, of course, are coming off a win in a come-from-behind win over BYU on Saturday. The Utes were down 27-7 in the second half and went on to score 28 unanswered points.

Utah’s first conference game of the season was against Washington in a loss 21-7. Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham does not believe that game means much coming into this matchup.

“It was early in the season for us, week three,” said Whittingham during the Pac-12 Championship teleconference. “A lot has changed since then. Teams have developed and evolved. That game won’t have any bearing on this upcoming game.”

Petersen agrees with the Utes head coach on that as well.

“I think it kind of evens out,” Petersen said on the pros and cons of beating Utah earlier in the year. “Both teams have a feel for the other side, but I think both teams have changed and improved as the season’s gone along. I think it’s kind of a wash, I really do.”

Kick-off is set for 6:00 P.M. Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.