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With outside college football playoff hopes alive, Utah looks to up its road intensity this weekend vs. host Arizona.
The Utes have reeled six-consecutive wins after falling Sept. 20 vs. USC. A woken Ute roster is burning through its competition, recently defeating then-surging UCLA 49-3. One game ahead of USC for PAC-12 South honors, a Utah win Saturday is crucial on many fronts.
Meanwhile, a 4-1 Arizona start crashed as the Wildcats are 0-5 since. Simply, the team’s defense has become chaotic, allowing no less than 34 points in that winless drought. This weekend, while Utah has higher designs in mind, Arizona still craved a home upset to remain alive for bowl eligibility.
Utah currently stands as 22.5 point favorites vs. conference rival Arizona.
Utah looking to gain double digit season win totalBehind the steady arm of Tyler Huntley, Utah is approaching its first double-digit win season since 2015. The Utes recently gained 536 yards (335 passing, 201 rushing) while routing a Bruins group which had won three straight coming in. Huntley’s pocket efficiency continued last Sat. as the senior completed 14 of 18 for 335 yards and two touchdowns. Huntley’s downfield ambition paid off. Ute receivers Brant Kuithe, Samson Nacua and Bryan Thompson all made big plays, while Kuithe and Nacua found paydirt. Ute tailback Zack Moss became Saturday’s other prime Utah mover. Moss ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns; the Senior leader also caught four passes to add 73 yards to his total.
Utah is 3-1 away this season. The model of downfield consistency, Huntley averages 11.5 yards per completion. The Utes stifle opposing coordinators, allowing 11.3 ppg. Offensively, Utah scores at a 34.7 ppg clip, good for #29 FBS. This Utah group is poised by veteran leadership and will make every down count this weekend.
Arizona clings to bowl hopesNeeding to win out to become bowl eligible and surpass last year’s five victories, Arizona has a steep mountain to climb today. That journey begins with defensive awareness. Overall, the Wildcats rank #124 FBS surrendering 37 ppg. That’s the sixth-worst defense nationally. Kevin Sumlin’s men have surrendered 30-plus points eight times this season -including forty-plus in four of their last five.
Generally on the wrong side of prolific offensive shootouts, Arizona couldn’t return fire last week, losing 34-6 at Oregon. Justin Herbert’s downfield march included 20 of 28 passing, four touchdowns and 333 yards. Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s end-zone trot polished Oregon’s offensive day vs. the Wildcats. Meanwhile, if not for kicker Lucas Havrisik’s two upright boots, Arizona would’ve remained scoreless. That is a testament to the efficacy of Oregon’s two-way effort as Arizona averages 30.2 ppg (#63 FBS).
While offensively credible, Arizona allows 470.2 ypg -including 315.4 passing. Huntley poses major risk vs. the misaligned Wildcats secondary.
- Wildcats are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Wildcats are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games on grass.
- Wildcats are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss.
- Wildcats are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS loss.
- Wildcats are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 conference games.
Trends courtesy of Covers.com
- Utes are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 conference games.
- Utes are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Utes are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win.
- Utes are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
With Arizona’s poor defense considered and Utah’s two-way excellence at play, the Utes will surpass the 22.5 point spread set by oddsmakers. In fact, that spread could be a little higher and I’d still have confidence taking it. One of the main reasons why is because of Huntley’s big-play ability going against the Wildcat’s notably lax secondary. Also, look for an all-out Utah blitz to dampen Khalil Tate’s final home game. Take the spread cover on Utah.
Prediction: Utah wins
Full-Game Total Pick
I’ll take the Under 57 today as I have every confidence Utah’s top-five National defense will severely limit Arizona’s scoring efforts. And while the Utes’ offense is steady, I don’t see it reaching 50 points. Utah will likely reach 40-45 tallies Sat., but struggling Arizona won’t surpass 14. That simple math leaves the suggested total decidedly under. Take the Under here.