Week 4 Friday College Football Play of the Day

Utah Utes

Doug Upstone

Thursday, September 21, 2017 8:44 PM GMT

Thursday, Sep. 21, 2017 8:44 PM GMT

It is the Pac-12 opener for Utah and Arizona and in conversations I have had with fellow betting experts, nearly half give the home-standing Wildcats a chance to cover against the Utes.

Utah has forged their way into the Top 25 with 3-0 record and they have picked up fans, as those making college football picks are totally on board with their matching 3-0 ATS mark.

Expectations were rather low for Arizona, as they and their arch-rival Arizona State are presumed to be competing for the Pac-12 South basement. Support for the Wildcats comes from two locations. First, Arizona has a good reputation as a home underdog, with an 11-6 ATS mark the last 10 years and 9-4 ATS record versus ranked opponents in Tucson.

The other aspect is Utah's tendency when playing well to have an 'off' game and lose a contest most would assume they would win.

The college football odds have the Utes as 3.5-point favorites with a total of 57 for this FS1 televised battle. Let's look at elements of interest.

 

Strength vs. Strength

Arizona runs coach Rich Rodriguez's read option offense and thus far it has been sensational at 328 yards per game, which is good for 4th in the country. Quarterback Brandon Dawkins runs the show and behind him is a very deep stable of running backs, headed by Nick Wilson and J.J. Taylor.

The one better team the Wildcats faced was Houston and the Cougars took away parts of what Rodriguez likes to do and held them to 152 rushing yards on 3.8 yards a carry.

Utah's schedule has not been overly burdensome either, nevertheless, their run defense spearheaded by standout defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei in the middle of its defensive line, is allowing only 49.3 rushing yards per game, second nationally behind Duke.

If one team get the upper hand in this matchup, this could be deciding factor.

 

Can 'Cats Defense Contain Utah's Passing Attack?

Utah has for decades been know for power running game and pedestrian at best passing attack. To date, that has changed under QB Tyler Huntley. The sophomore took the starting job away from incumbent Troy Williams in August and has been masterful as a dual threat in the Utes new more up-tempo scheme implemented by first-year offensive coordinator Troy Taylor.

Besides the strong running attack, Huntley and Utah are averaging 294 YPG via the pass, making them a challenge to stop. Arizona will have to get Huntley out of his comfort zone. Before last week against San Jose State, Utah had been having issues in the red zone, which the Wildcats defense will work to see resurface.

 

How This Pac-12 Confrontation Plays Out

Arizona will be stoked and have offensive moments, but as the game wears on the aggressive Utah defense will keep generating negative plays and force Dawkins to beat them throwing. Huntley and the Utes offense will find weaknesses is the Wildcats defense and pull away to a 12-point victory.

Free College Football Pick: Utah -3.5Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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