Pick – Analysis
Utah has been forgotten about in recent weeks since a loss at USC, but they still have a decent shot of winning the Pac-12. They take on a reeling Arizona team that has lost three straight Games.
The worrisome thing for Utah here is that Arizona has dominated this matchup in recent years. The Wildcats have won and covered in three straight and took last year’s Game, in Utah, 42-10 as an underdog. Utah hosts UCLA next weekend, but can’t look ahead of this matchup. The Utes need to win out to take the South title straight up and then have to take out Stanford if they want a chance at the playoff. There’s still a long way to go for them.
Things aren’t looking so hot for Arizona as they’ve dealt with injuries on both sides of the ball all season long. The Wildcats have two Conference wins, but those came against lowly Oregon State and Colorado. In their last home Game, they fell to Washington State 45-42 and followed that up with a 49-3 loss at Washington. They showed some resolve against USC last weekend in an eight-point loss, but this defense still has its issues.
The Utes don’t have an outstanding offense, but this Arizona defense has struggled to do anything without stud linebacker SCooby Wright. Utah will feed running back Devontae Booker as much as possible, which is their usual strategy, but there’s no reason why that won’t work. Booker has 1,116 yards and 10 TDs on the year. Quarterback Travis Wilson is a load to handle as well and probably won’t be asked to do much if Booker has success. Wilson hasn’t attempted more than 25 passes in the last two Games and that’s exactly how Utah wants to play.
Utah’s defense has been a reason for the team’s success this year, and outside of the loss to USC, has been stout throughout. Arizona has been inconsistent for most of 2015, but that’s also due to injuries. Neither QB Anu Solomon nor RB Nick Wilson have been able to stay on the field for most of the season. It’s likely Wilson will miss this Game as well. They’ll still run the ball plenty, but backup Jared Baker is not at the same level as Wilson and that’s seen in his recent struggles. At the least, it looks like Solomon is back to normal and that showed as they scored 30 points against the Trojans last Game. Solomon having a good Game is the only chance Arizona has at winning this one.
But as said before, Arizona holds the edge in recent matchups. The Wildcats ran over Utah last year and Travis Wilson tossed a couple picks, which didn’t help.
The Utes are just 1-5 ATS in their last six Games following an ATS win and the over has hit five straight times in Arizona Games. In this meeting, the road team is 5-1 ATS in the last six.
Our Pick – Utah is the superior team in this matchup. Arizona lacks any consistency and the bad has outweighed the good by a mile, as shown in their beatdowns by UCLA, Stanford and Washington.
Hats off to Arizona for playing USC tough. However, expecting Arizona to string together 2 consecutive solid efforts is a bit much to ask.
The Utes have been a model of consistency and also have a revenge motive with 3 straight losses to Arizona the last of which was a 42-10 beating a year ago.
Arizona no doubt motivated by the chance to become bowl eligible but we think that will have to wait a week as the talent trumps the motivation here. Utah -6