Utah Utes (5-5 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) vs. Washington Huskies (8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 10:30PM EST
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: UTAH +17.5/WASH -17.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5
The Utah Utes come to Seattle to take on the Washington Huskies on Saturday in Pac-12 action. Utah is struggling as of late and fell to the Washington State Cougars, 33-25, on Saturday. After a 4-0 start, the shine is off, but they look to salvage their season with a strong finish, starting with a tough road conference spot in Seattle. The Huskies are also in atonement mode, coming off their second loss of the season on Friday against Stanford on the road. Which team will get the win and cover this week?
The Utes have lost five of their last six games. After a 4-0 start and a win over Arizona, they were ranked and hopes were high. Injuries, inconsistent play, and some tough matchups led to the decline. But theyre not altogether a lost cause and there have been some close ones in the mixa 3-point loss to Stanford, a one-point loss to USC, and the one-score defeat last week to WSU. They now look to secure a bowl berth and upgrade their status with a win over a good Washington team.
Utah sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley is a rising dual-threat guy, a definite up-and-comer to watch next season. After an injury, hes been a bit erratic since returning. On Saturday, his three interceptions were a big part of the Utah loss. He has also had games where he was very good, with prolific passing days along with some good plays with his feet. Injuries havent helped and with RB Zach Moss banged-up, they have lost some steam in the run-game. They were also without top offensive weapon WR Darren Carrington, who they are hoping returns for this. In his absence, they got nice production from Raelon Singleton and Demari Simpkins, with big-body receiver Samson Nacua adding some nice work, as well. More consistent play from others besides Carrington in this aerial game would go a long way in these next two games.
As is usually the case lately with the Utes, their defense has been pretty adequate, especially against some of the good offenses they have faced this season. Theyre giving up 24 points a game, while being at least respectable against the run and the pass. Theyve lacked some juice in the pass-rush department, but are rather adept at securing turnovers, with 22 on the season. Among the bigger contributors on this side of the ball are Kavika Laufatasaga, Sunia Tauteoli, Marquise Blair, Chase Hansen, and Julian Blackmon. Only once this season has this defense allowed more than 30 points and in this conference, thats not half-bad.
Washington coming up with 22 points on Friday against Stanford underlines the reason they are not in the national discussion as they were last season. It just hasnt worked out on that side of the ball as they would have hoped, as injuries played a big role in that. They remain a good team, with their defense still one of the best in the nation. Before the season began, more questions loomed over the D, but its been the offense that has been the sticking point. And on Friday, the defense had its worst game of the season. Having given up more than 16 points just once this season, they gave up 30 to Stanford and were run over at times by Cardinal running back Bryce Love. There are three two-loss teams in the Pac-12s North division, with the Huskies being one of them. So theyre still playing for a lot, with a chance to become conference champions still on the line.
The Washington offense has been plagued by injuries and departures from the last offseason. Jake Browning may not be close to the season he had in 2016, but hes still been good with nearly 70% completions, along with 16 TD passes and just 5 picks. The aerial-game is just nowhere as prolific as last season. The run-game is led by Myles Gaskin, with help from Lavon Coleman. Dante Pettis has been their biggest contributor through the air, with a big assist with TE Hunter Bryant. They have lost Bryant to injury, adding to a long list of aerial targets this season that are out-of-action and they keep getting thinner in that area. Gaskin and Coleman have also each caught 2 TD passes. Theyre still good for 37 points a game.
The Washington defense was almost enough to carry them to big things, with two one-score games separating them from an undefeated record. Some of the performances they have come up with against conference teams have been excellent, giving up 10 to Colorado, 7 to Cal, 13 to Arizona State, and 3 to Oregon, among other good games for the D. Nationally, they are ranked third against the pass and 4th against the rush, with only one team having allowed fewer points than the Huskies this season. They are good at rushing the passer, with linebackers Ben Burr-Kirven, Tevis Barlett, and Ryan Bowman getting after it. A lot of guys on this side of the ball make plays, with secondary members like Tyler Rapp, Ezekiel Turner, JoJo McIntosh delivering the goods this season.
Each team enters this with different sets of motivation. The stakes are higher for the Huskies, with a division title possibly in the balance. Utah would also like to solidify their bowl standing and atone for an awful run that followed a promising start. At home, I suspect the Huskies will emerge victorious, but by how much? Is their offense good enough to get this much separation from a Utah team that has played tough conference foes close this season for the most part? Can Utahs offense do much on the road against this Huskies defense? The guess here is that Utah still has enough fire to keep this one semi-respectable. Im taking the Utes and the points.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Utah Utes plus 17.5 points. Move the line on this game up to 20 points by inserting it into a 20 point football teaser at the web’s best sportsbook: 5dimes!