Surprisingly, the Pac-12 South isn’t out of reach for either of these teams and maybe more surprising is the team with the better Conference record is a double-digit underdog in this Game. Utah, playing at home, opened as a big -13.5 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The spread feels big, but it’s mostly because Utah just crushed Stanford on the road, 40-21. The Utes dominated both lines of scrimmage and things went their way from the start including Bryce Love being labeled inactive. This one could end up being closer because Arizona has turned things around somewhat after a slow start to the season. They almost stole a win against USC two weeks ago and most recently took care of Cal. Either way, they have enough talent to make this Game competitive, similar to last year’s matchup.
Utah won 30-24, but it wasn’t pretty as Arizona turned the ball over five times with three interceptions from quarterback Brandon Dawkins. Even then, the Wildcats still made a Game of it and ended up with 100 more total yards than Utah. However, that probably won’t happen again against this Utah defense that’s allowing 75 rushing yards and less than 300 total yards per Game.
Those are impressive numbers given their early Schedule, but they also haven’t faced a quarterback like Khalil Tate. While he isn’t running as much as last year, he’s used his legs a bit more the last couple Games and that’s worked for the offense. Tate’s arm remains a work in progress, but if he can at least move the chains alongside running backs J.J. Taylor and Gary Brightwell, that should keep this Game competitive.
Then again, there are still questions about the Arizona defense even though it’s held strong in the last few Games. The Wildcats are still allowing 430 yards per Game with 200 of those coming on the ground, which works into Utah’s favor.
The Utes will likely turn to running back Zack Moss early and often after he went for 160 yards and a couple touchdowns against Stanford. If that works, they may not stop because there’s no reason to. If the offense can hold onto the ball, that means less time for Tate to work his magic. But if the ground Game runs into any kind of resistance, that will force quarterback Tyler Huntley into more work and those results remain iffy as he hasn’t thrown for more than 200 yards in the last three Games. Considering Arizona’s defense has held strong the last three contests giving up just 55 points total, there’s a path for this Game being competitive on both sides of the field.
The Wildcats are just 3-13 ATS in their last 16 road Games and 4-9 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, though Kevin Sumlin has covered three of the last Four with his new team. The Utes don’t have many trends, but are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five following a straight-up win. There also aren’t many head-to-head trends outside of Arizona covering in Four of the last five meetings played in Utah.
Our Pick – Arizona +14