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Utah vs. Air Force
Betting Line: Utah -7
Is Utah a Trick? Or a Treat?
Handicappers across the Nation are pulling their hair out trying to solve a college football riddle. The riddle is, how good are the Utah Utes? Heck, they are ranked #9 in the Nation and are 3rd in the Nation in total offense and 4th in the Nation in total defense. Not bad. This team is outscoring their opponents 48-13! Clearly this is one of the best college football teams in the Nation, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not.
This weeks matchup with Air Force presents what is perhaps the most glaring example of schedule strength and how important it is as a handicapper to look beyond the publicly available stats that are published each week.
Utah has literally played the 5 of the worst college football teams in the land on their way to a 7-0 record. They own wins over 1-6 UNLV, 0-7 New Mexico, 1-7 San Jose, 2-6 Wyoming and 2-6 Colorado State. Those 5 teams have a combined record of 6-32 and have a combined points for points against of 14-36. Of the bunch, the ones who have wins are mainly against others in the group plus some team f4rom Southern Utah!
Air Force on the other hand, is 5-3. Of their 3 losses, one was to #4 TCU, one was to #7 Oklahoma and the other was to a cagey San Diego State team who currently has a 5-2 record. All of their losses were on the road and two of 3 were by a field goal or less, including their loss to the Sooners.
Utah's only win against a team with a winning record came against Pitt in the
first game of the year, by a field goal, 27-24. Pitt lost to a weak Notre Dame
team and was whipped by Miami Fla.
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Now, to be fair, Utah has done exactly what one would expect a good team to do against weak opposition. The blew all of those teams off the field. All of which makes it even more difficult as a handicapper to determine of they really are as good as they look.
This past decade, most of the games between these two have been decided by a touchdown or less, with both teams taking turns on top. Utah has won the last two meetings. Air Force last won in 2007, at Utah, by a score of 20-12. Just to show that talent-wise, historically, these programs are on the same level.
Once again, keep in mind, we are not necessarily saying that Utah is a paper tiger. What we are saying is, we just don't know. Our best guess is that they are not a touchdown better than Air Force this week, on the road. There looks to be some value on the Air Force side simply as a result of the public looking at the wins and losses and assuming Utah is the better team.
Remember, the Utah schedule is anywhere from 10 to 13 points easier than The Air Force schedule.
As far as we go, at this writing, early in the week, we are staying away from this one. There are better games on the board.