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Washington

vs.

Utah

College Football Pick

10/29/16

At this point, it doesn't look like anyone will be of much competition to Washington in the Pac-12, but that kind of thinking usually fails. The Huskies get what appears to be a formidable foe this week with Utah having just one loss at the top of the South division. The Huskies still opened as large -10 point favorites on the road as seen at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.

It's true, the Utes only have one loss, but there hasn't been anything overly great about the way they've played so far. They continue to scrape by no matter the opponent. Their best win was arguably against USC and that came in Sam Darnold's first start at quarterback for the Trojans. Their loss is even more troubling, losing 28-23 at Cal.

It's been different for Washington who has blown out its last three opponents, Stanford and Oregon included. Of course, neither one of those teams is good this year, so that doesn't mean as much as previous seasons. And it hasn't always been blowouts as the Huskies had trouble winning at a beat-up Arizona team a month ago.

When these teams met last year, it was a much different situation with Washington obviously not being as good. So the Utes went on the road and won 34-23. Of course, the Huskies actually outgained them by 35 yards, but having four turnovers ultimately did them in.

It figures to be a different game this year, mainly because Jake Browning is much improved in his second season under center. Browning has actually been one of the best QBs in the nation statistically, completing close to 69% of his passes for 26 touchdowns and only two interceptions. And when you combine those numbers with what Myles Gaskin can do out of the backfield, not many will be able to stop this offense. Gaskin has reached 100 yards in three straight games and has four touchdowns in that period.

Utah was thought to have a good defense, but they didn't have an answer for UCLA's backup QB last week and that led to 45 points allowed. Are the Utes good, or have they been lucky schedule-wise?

Then again, the same could be said for Washington, although holding Oregon to 21 points can be considered good. Other than that, despite being undefeated and allowing 14.6 points per game, the Huskies haven't faced a solid offense.

Maybe it's hard to consider the Utes good, but Joe Williams just ran for 332 yards and four touchdowns against a decent UCLA defense last week, so that can't be discredited. It's expected the Huskies will crowd the box to stop Williams and company because Troy Williams hasn't shown much at quarterback. Utah has used its ground game in the last three contests and that includes asking Troy Williams to do more with his legs. He only attempted 13 passes in the win at Oregon State.

And if the Utes can get that ground game going, they should be able to cover here because that will in turn keep Browning and the Washington offense off the field.

The Huskies are 4-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 overall. The Utes are just 1-5 ATS in their last six games following an ATS win and haven't covered in four straight home games against a team with a winning road record.

Our Pick - This is an intriguing game. It's important to note that the Huskies big wins this year have come against teams that, as it turns out, are major disappointments this year. A win over Stanford over the past few years would have been a big deal. Not so much this year. A win ver Oregon the last few years would be a big deal. Not so much this year.

Yet, Washington ranks in the top 3 on both sides of the ball and that's quite an accomplishment. We can't discount what they have done to this point and have to assume they are the real deal.

But the Utes are a 7-1 football team and while they haven't won as impressively as Washington, 7-1 is no fluke. The team knows how to win. They also beat the Huskies last year and the makeup of these teams this year really isn't all that different.

The Utes know they can play with this team and they are at home playing the biggest game of the year. While our numbers say the oddsmakers have this number right, we're still going to take a shot with Utah to make this a dogfight. Utah +10

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