In Saturday night action, the 12th ranked and 7-1 Utah Utes could ill afford another loss if they hope to make the College Football Playoff but that loss may come here in Washington.
The 12th ranked team in the country on the initial College Football Playoff Rankings could have those playoff dreams squashed out on the West Coast Saturday night when those Utah Utes (7-1, 4-4 ATS) face a difficult road test as they pay a visit to the Washington Huskies (4-4, 5-3 ATS), who are actually the slight favorites in this game, at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA at 7:30 ET in a game televised nationally on FOX.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Washington as a scant home favorite for this contest with the current line at -2 with odds of -110.
Cannot Afford Another Loss
Utah was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten two weeks ago at USC, and while some Power 5 conference schools might still be able to crack the College Football Playoff with two losses, the Utes do not figure to be one of them despite ascending to third in the nation earlier this year in the AP Poll shortly after annihilating the Oregon Ducks on the road in Eugene. Thus another loss could relegate the Utes to a lesser bowl, and that loss could come tonight.
Not much was expected from the Huskies this season with only 10 returning starters, but former Boise State Coach Chris Petersen is weaving his magic again especially while building one of the more underrated defenses in the country, and while Washington is only 4-4 straight up, the Huskies continue to make steady progress as evidenced by being the winning college football picks in amazingly easy fashion over Arizona 49-3 last week.
Transitive Property at Work
Now obviously, the transitive property does not always translate well to sports betting, but that does now mean that it is not interesting and fun to talk about. Well, as mentioned, the first Utah loss came two weeks ago 42-24 at USC. What makes that interesting is that Washington also visited USC a couple of weeks before Utah did, and the Huskies pulled the 17-12 upset while holding the Trojans to 346 total yards, a far cry from the 42 points the Utes allowed!
Utah relies on one of the best running backs in the country in Devontae Booker, and rightfully so. However, he has his worst rushing game of the season in the USC loss with 62 yards on 4.4 yards per carry, and without getting his usual rushing support quarterback Travis Wilson had a meltdown vs. the Trojans’ defense throwing four interceptions.
That contest was further evidence that Wilson is a good game manager when he could get the passing lanes that come in conjunction with a great running game, but he may not be a quarterback that will beat you on his own.
Ranked Fourth in Defensive Efficiency
We mention that because Wilson might feel a sense of déjà vu from that game in Los Angeles tonight in Seattle. We alluded to the great defense that Coach Patterson has constructed since taking over as Huskies’ Coach last year, as that unit is ranked 12th in the country in scoring defense allowing 16.9 points per game and 33rd in rushing defense allowing 136.6 yards per game on just 3.2 yards per carry.
And the reality is that the Washington defense has played better than its raw numbers as it is ranked an amazing fourth in the entire country in defensive efficiency according to Football Outsiders! But the biggest matchup here is that stout run defense vs. Booker, as we expect the Huskies to bottle up the great Utah back in much the same way that USC did, thus putting pressure on Wilson again to perform, a task he has not been up to when asked to carry his team.
Trouble Covering in Conference
Finally, for all of Utah’s success this season the Utes are still just 2-5 ATS in their last seven games inside the Pac-12 after failing to cover in their 27-12 win over a bad Oregon State team last week. Meanwhile, the former Boise Coach Petersen is changing the culture in Washington with the Huskies going 4-1 ATS their last five November games.
If the stiff Washington rushing defense could at least contain Booker, which we suspect it will, then it should pave the way for the Huskies to emerge triumphant, thus smashing the College Football Playoff dreams of Utah in Seattle Saturday night on FOX.
College Football Pick: Washington -2 (-110)