Our college football analyst provides us with a betting preview on the Utah Utes. Join us in reading this informative and insightful article concluded with a college football futures pick.
College Football Preview: 2016 Utah Utes
The Utah Utes are coming off last year's very successful 10-3 campaign. They culminated the season with a 35-28 win over their state rival BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl. They also finished tied for the PAC 12 South Division title with USC. However, due to their 42-24 loss at USC, the Trojans advanced to the PAC 12 Championship game against Stanford. Athlon Sports has Utah #32 in their 2016 preseason rankings, and also picks them to finish 3rd in the PAC 12 South.
Head Coaching Stability
Kyle Whittingham begins is 12th year as head coach at Utah. He's amassed a shiny 95-46 m(.674) record over the course of that time. Utah has reached a bowl game in nine of the last 11 years under Whittingham, and went a terrific 8-1 in those contests. As a matter of fact, Whittingham has the best bowl game winning percentage of any head coach in NCAA history.
Utah will be extremely inexperienced at the offensive skilled positions heading into this 2016 season. Gone is quarterback Travis Wilson who made 40 career starts. During the last three seasons alone, Wilson accounted for 6090 yards in the air and tossed 47 touchdown passes. Additionally, over that same time frame, Wilson had 1166 yards rushing and ran for 17 touchdowns.
They'll also be hard pressed to replace running back Devontae Booker who was the Utes leading rusher in each of the past two seasons. Booker ran for a combined 2773 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2014 and 2015. The versatile running back also gathered in 79 pass receptions for another 627 yards and 2 more scores.
Finally, none of Utah's top three wide receivers will return. Britain Covey, Kenneth Scott, and Harris Handley had a cumulative 103 receptions for 1262 yards while tallying 12 touchdowns last year.
On a more positive note, the Utes offense line has a plethora of experience. Joe Williams looks to be their heir apparent to Booker at running back, and was impressive when afforded an opportunity last season, evidenced by his 477 yards rushing (4.6 YPR).
On paper, Utah should possess one of the best defenses in the country this season. They return 8 starters from a unit which ranked #6 nationally in rush defense at 108.6 yards allowed per game, #31 in scoring defense at 22.3 points per contest, and totaled an impressive 37 sacks. The defensive line and secondary will be their strength.
Unfortunately, they lost all three starting linebackers to graduation. Even with that, the Utes showed a high propensity to play a lot of nickel defense a season ago, and did so in order to combat against a high volume of opposing spread offenses they encountered. That will in all likelihood be the case for this upcoming season.
Utah will face some quality opponents at home this year. #46 BYU, #23 USC, #50 Arizona, #11 Washington, and #24 Oregon will all travel to Salt Lake. Their road slate seems to be far less daunting, with its toughest opponents being #15 UCLA and #45 Arizona State. They do get a scheduling break by not having to face PAC 12 foes in #12 Stanford and #30 Washington State.
Futures Betting Odds
Current college football odds at TheGreek has Utah's regular season win total listed at 7.5. Utah is also 60-1 to win the national championship, and 8-1 regarding its chances of capturing the PAC 12 crown. At this present time, I'll have a small lean toward going over 7.5 regular season wins for one of my early college football picks.
Free NCAAF Pick: Utah Over 7½
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek