Things get real for the Pac-12 this weekend as most teams begin Conference play. That includes Utah and Arizona, both of which had tempered expectations heading into the season. That said, the Utes are ranked, undefeated and a -4.5 point road favorite (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) for Friday’s Game.
Utah is undefeated, but due to a favorable non-Conference slate, that doesn’t mean much. The Utes had no issues with North Dakota and SJSU, but struggled to separate from BYU two weeks ago. BYU usually has a solid team, but it can’t be overlooked how the Cougars performed against LSU and Wisconsin, scoring six points total. The Utes are road favorites and ranked in the top 25, but they haven’t needed to show much in their early Games.
Of course, it’s not as if Arizona is a powerhouse. The Wildcats are coming off a three-win season and will be looking for two Pac-12 wins this year for improvement. They had some freebies and couldn’t escape Houston in a 19-16 loss two Games ago.
When these teams met last year, Arizona had trouble putting points on the board, despite moving the ball fairly well, mostly due to turnovers. On the other side, Utah did as much as it wanted rushing for 4.7 yards per carry for 210 yards and three touchdowns. That could easily be the case again with Tyler Huntley the name to know in this matchup. Huntley leads Utah with 212 rushing yards in addition to solid passing numbers with five touchdowns and a 72.1 completion rate. He’s had a great rapport with former Oregon WR Darren Carrington, who already has 26 catches for 409 yards and Four TDs. Arizona’s defense is still lacking and could be an issue against Huntley.
That only means Arizona will have to find a way to Scorethemselves, meaning less turnovers than a year ago. Similar to Huntley, Brandon Dawkins has done everything for the Wildcats offense, rushing for 251 yards and five touchdowns to go with Four TDs through the air on 66.7% completion. Unfortunately for ‘Zona fans is that 125 of those points have come against NAU and UTEP. against the only solid defense this team has faced, they managed 16 points against Houston.
Per usual, Utah has one of the better defenses in the Conference and that could be an issue for Dawkins and company. The Utes haven’t exactly faced a good offense yet, so their quality is also up for debate. In this Game last year, Arizona threw for 348 yards, but also threw three picks, which was the ultimate decider because Arizona finished with 20 more total yards.
Playing at home and with a little more hope for the season ahead, the Wildcats and Rich Rodriguez will be looking to get their first Conference win early. There’s little known from either of these teams in early Games, but in the home Conference opener last season, Washington needed overtime to upend Arizona.
Our Pick – Our Pick – After losing 4 straight in this series, Utah came up with a “W” last year . But it’s Arizona that is in better shape in terms of returning talent . Couple that with the home field edge and with little else to go on this year, we’ll call for Arizona to gain some revenge for last years results. Arizona +3.5