Gary Doran

Advanced Stats 12-Pack: Utah vs ASU


The Thursday night game this week against Utah is ASU’s last home game of the 2016 season. ASU leads the overall series 20-7, with Todd Graham holding a 3-1 record against the Utes, while Frank Kush was 10-6, Darryl Rogers and John Cooper were both 2-0, and Larry Marmie and Bruce Snyder were both 1-0. That means since Frank Kush was at ASU, the Devils have been 10 and 1 against Utah.

As with any game late in the season, it is important the Sun Devils win this contest to become bowl eligible. It is also important for the Utes to win to stay in the hunt for the Pac-12 South title. Both teams are coming off of bye weeks, where Kyle Whittingham is 9-3 in games after a bye week and Todd Graham is 8-4.

Let’s see what the numbers tell us about the Utes:










1. The Utah offense has only thrown one interception in conference play this season, while ASU has thrown eight.
2. Utah is tied for first in the conference in the number of times they have gotten into their opponents’ red zone (42), but are eleventh in the percentage of times they score a red zone touchdown (52%).
3. Utah is first in the conference in limiting the number of times their opponents enter into their red zone at just 20.
4. The Utah offense has only thrown one touchdown pass on the road this season.
5. The Utah offense has only thrown three touchdown passes in the last five games.
6. Utah has averaged about 265 yards per game on the ground over the past four games, whereas they averaged 174 in the first five games.
7. The Utah defense is third in the conference in only allowing eight touchdowns on the ground this season
8. The Utah defense has allowed only two rushing touchdowns playing on the road this season.
9. Only three of the 16 touchdown passes thrown by the Utah offense this season came when the Utes were behind in the game
10. This season Joe Williams is averaging 6.32 yards per carry, while the rest of the team averages 3.93.
11. In games at home, the Utah offense converted 44.44-percent of their third down opportunities, but only 30.65-percent on the road (last in the conference).
12. In the first four games this season, the Utah offense completed 63-percent of their passes, whereas in the last five games the average dropped to only 47-percent.


If history is any indication about the game this Thursday, then neither team will score what they usually average against other conference teams. In the four previous games during coach Todd Graham’s tenure, ASU has averaged scoring 14 points less against Utah than their other conference foes, while Utah has averaged eight and a half points less. This season, both teams are averaging about 30 points per game in conference play.

The Utah offense has seen a rise of its rushing game over the last four games and at the same time, a decrease in its passing game. That may be a good thing for a beleaguered ASU pass defense, and a rush defense that does much better in home games.

The red zone will also be a big point of interest in the game as Utah does a great job in getting into opponents red zones, while also limiting those same opponents from getting into their own red zone. At the same time, ASU is eighth in the conference in getting into opponent red zone, but fourth in the percentage of times they score a red zone touchdown.  Utah is towards the bottom of the conference in the percentage of times their red zone opportunities are converted into touchdowns.

The game may come down to turnovers, where both clubs do well having a positive turnover margin for the game, as ASU has a positive two turnover margin at home this season and Utah has a positive five turnover margin on the road this year. A big difference may be that over the last four games, ASU has lost the ball eight times, while Utah has only lost it four times.  Also, Utah has really increased the number of turnover they generate beginning in the 2015 season. Will these trends continue into Thursday night’s game?

Sources:, &

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

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