Utah Utes (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS) vs. Arizona Wildcats (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Friday, September 22, 2017 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
TV: Fox Sports 1
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UTAH -3/ARIZ +3
Over/Under Total: 59.5
In Pac-12 action on Friday from Tucson, the Utah Utes come into town to take on the Arizona Wildcats. Utah is unbeaten on the young season, coming off a 54-16 win over San Jose State. They have covered the spread in all three of their games this season. Arizona was also successful last week with a big offensive showing, beating UTEP, 63-16. This is the conference opener for both teams.
The Utes opened the season with a nice warm-up win over North Dakota, before scoring a good road win over BYU in week two, 19-13. They really laid it on San Jose State on Saturday, but in all fairness, its not a very good Spartans bunch this season. Arizona, meanwhile, started the season in similar fashion, with a warm-up win over an FCS opponent in a 62-24 win over Northern Arizona. They lost the next week in a 19-16 game against Houston, before dropping the hammer on UTEP on Friday. We should have a better idea about both teams after this conference matchup.
Arizona got off to a slow start against UTEP on Friday, before going on a prolonged offensive onslaught, led by QB Brandon Dawkins, who ran for three touchdowns on 18-for-22 passing. Dawkins led the team in rushing with 133 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. Backs JJ Taylor, Nick Wilson (questionable), and Nathan Tilford also pitched in, with Tilford scoring a pair of touchdowns and Taylor having a TD grab. Aerially, Tyrell Johnson was productive, with Shun Brown and Bryce Wolma both hauling in touchdowns. Its important to keep in mind how young Arizona is, having played 24 freshmen so far this season, including 14 true freshmen.
The Wildcats defense has been showing some nice flashes in their first three games, allowing a reasonable 59 combined points. There have been stretches where they have played quite effectively, holding Houston scoreless in the second half, although they lost the game. And UTEP struggled to find any offensive continuity against this group last week. Freshman linebacker Colin Schooler had a pick and returned it 53 yards on Saturday. Anthony Pandy and Tony Fields, II. both had sacks. Safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles recovered a fumble. Well see if playing a more-complete Utah offense brings out their shortcomings, namely a lack of overall experience and the type of mistake-prone play that is a common byproduct of extreme youth.
Not a lot of people are talking about Utah. Theyre 3-0 and with three covers, theyve been performing well thus far in the young season. Beating BYU on the road was a nice win, but well see how they hold up against conference teams starting this week. They offer a certain level of promise on offense and may have found their answer at quarterback with sophomore Tyler Huntley. He can throw with gusto, while also able to spring loose with a big run. Against San Jose State, he threw for four touchdown on 341 yards passing, adding another 53 yards with his lively legs. The Utah playmaking component got a big boost with the arrival of receiver Darren Carrington, II. from Oregon. He was absolutely huge last week with three touchdown grabs among his 153 yards receiving. Samson Nacua had 7 catches, while Raelon Singleton caught another touchdown pass. Also scoring on the ground was Zack Moss and Devontae Henry-Cole. With back-to-back 300+-yard games, Huntley looks good and with continued chemistry with Carrington, things could get interesting on this side of the ball.
A good Utah team led by Kyle Whittingham figures to have a good defense and so far, so good for the Utes. They got after it in week three, with five turnovers and five sacks making a big impact in the team win. And having a dynamic offense also helps keep this group rested. Against San Jose, Sunia Tauteoli and Julian Blackmon both had picks, with Kylie Fitts also having a big day up-front with DE Bradley Anae, who also recovered a fumble. It should be interesting to see how they fare in-conference after allowing a total of 45 points in their first three games and showing an abundance of positive signs.
Again, its hard to pinpoint where each team truly stands in 2017 and their conference openers should serve as a more-accurate barometer on where they are right now. Arizona looks pretty dangerous and can get you any number of ways on offense, with an energetic defense that can do damage. Rich Rodriguez is bringing out the best of a young group, as they try to extricate themselves from the bottom of the Pac-12. Utah is already where the Wildcats are trying to go. The feeling here is that their greater experience, along with a offense that has become more-dynamic and dangerous, should be enough to notch the win and cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Utah Utes minus 3 points. - Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at a sportsbook where it WILL work for deposits and take advantage of their 100% signup bonus on your first deposit up to $100! (Example: Deposit $100 and they’ll give you an extra $100 FREE!) Find this great offer at Intertops Sportsbook.