Saturday Last Call: Suspect Defenses on Hand as Winless Teams Vie

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, September 13, 2018 1:40 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 13, 2018 1:40 PM UTC

In the first two weeks of the season the late game featured explosive offense. NCAAF handicapper Mark Lathrop thinks that trend will continue in Week 3 when Southern Utah plays at Arizona.

2018 NCAAF Record: 7-4, +6.28u
*Note: Record includes official Twitter selections (@mlathrop3)

Southern Utah (0-2 SU) at Arizona (0-2 SU)Saturday, 11 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)Free NCAAF Pick: Over 69.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3448629, "sportsbooksIds":[19,238,93,43,169], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Arizona needs a win this week, and it appears its weakness will be at issue again with one of the best offensive lines in the FCS level coming to town in Southern Utah. The Wildcats have yet to sack the quarterback this season, and got bullied by Houston en route to giving up 297 yards rushing to the Cougars. Three of the five preseason all-Big Sky Conference offensive lineman are from Southern Utah. Needless to say, the Southern Utah offense could have some time to throw against a weak Arizona defense, and could open up some running lanes as well.

This is supposed to be the easiest game on the Arizona schedule this year, and they have been placed as 23.5-point favorites at home. One of the reasons that line hasn’t dropped after their 0-2 start is that their starting left tackle, Layth Friekh, will be back after being suspended over the first two games. It will shuffle the line for sure, but in the press conference this week first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin expressed the fact that the line depth was shallow and there were four offensive linemen who played more than 100 snaps in the first two games.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

Arizona Wildcats football opens season 0-2 for 1st time in 37 years: https://t.co/DTOt1pJdQc #abc15 pic.twitter.com/u5fqMn7nsZ

— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) September 9, 2018
\n\n"}[/]

Having the line at full strength should help Arizona QB Khalil Tate, who has struggled to produce the explosive plays that he had over the second half of last season. He injured his ankle in the first half of the game against Houston, but should play in this game against the Thunderbirds. The Wildcats can’t afford to lose, after all.

The Wildcats' offense will try to get right against a Southern Utah team that has given up 41 points per game over the first two weeks. Stopping the run has been an issue for the Thunderbirds, who gave up 41 points in the first half of their game last week against Oregon State. If Tate is right, he could be a nightmare for the Thunderbirds to contain. The Southern Utah defense was ranked 80th in the FCS in defense last season.

The total piques my interest in this matchup and is currently listed at 69.5 at 5Dimes. With Oregon State scoring on seven of their first eight drives against Southern Utah last week, the Thunderbirds' defense could be in trouble against an Arizona offense with their backs against the wall. Arizona’s defense is also their weaker unit, so with my college football picks I’m going to take the "over" in this game instead of laying huge chalk backing that defense.

comment here