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Washington State

vs.

Utah

College Football

Free Pick

11/11/17

It may be hard to believe, but Washington State still has a chance to make the Pac-12 title game if it wins out. However, the schedule is far from easy for the Cougars, starting with a trip to Utah followed by the Apple Cup. As of Wednesday at 5Dimes Sportsbook, the Cougars were small -1 point road favorites against the Utes.

It’s apparent in the line that bookmakers don’t know what to do with this matchup. Both of these teams have been all over the place. Utah got back on track last weekend, but it came against lowly UCLA. Before that, the Utes had lost back-to-back games by 20-plus points to Arizona State and Oregon. As for Washington State, it has lost its last two road games, but has impressive wins over USC, Colorado and Stanford at home.

Utah’s defense has decent numbers on the season, but again, hasn’t done much in recent games. And holding UCLA to 17 points isn’t that impressive considering the Bruins were without quarterback Josh Rosen.

Wazzu’s offense has taken a dip in recent games, but still has a potent Luke Falk in charge, who put in a good performance against Stanford last time out with 337 yards and three touchdowns. As long as that Falk shows up (and doesn’t get benched), it could be enough against a defense that’s been struggling. But if Falk reverts to his previous road troubles, that would lead to counting on the ground game between Jamal Morrow and James Williams, which isn’t a good thing.

Adding to the matter, WSU’s road defense has been completely different than at home. The Cougars have been pounded by Arizona and Cal in recent road trips, but have been stout in almost every other game this season.

But even after scoring 48 points last week, there is no reason to believe in the Utah offense that scored only 30 points total in previous games against ASU and Oregon. Quarterback Tyler Huntley actually has been good in recent games, tossing six touchdowns, while adding more yards on the ground, but his four-interception performance against ASU can’t be overlooked. The Cougars are worse against the run, which means Utah should lean heavily on running the ball between Zack Moss and Huntley. Moss has gone for 125 yards in three games this season, but has failed to surpass 80 in any other contest. If he can’t reach 80 yards against a defense that allows 136 rushing yards per game, Wazzu gets the edge in that aspect.

Washington State is probably the more talented team and is having a better season, but will be hard to take given its road struggles. The Cougars are 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. a team with a winning record, but just 1-5 ATS in their last six road games. The Utes are 5-0-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 Pac-12 games. Washington State is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these schools.

Our Pick - Utah +1

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