The Utah Utes were supposed to be here. The Arizona Wildcats weren’t. But with two ncaa football games remaining in the season, both ncaaf teams are 7-3. Both teams are also ranked, with Utah entering the game at No. 18 and the Wildcats checking in at No. 21. The game looks close on paper, and the sportsbook agrees. The game is even or ‘pick-em,’ and the total is just 44.5. The Utah @ Arizona expert pick will examine both teams and how the game could play out.
(7-3) | (7-3)
Location: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
Day/Time: Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET
Television: Pac-12 Network
Utah Has Dominated Against Arizona
The Utah Utes can take some measure of comfort in knowing it’s beaten Arizona the last six times the teams have met and are 5-1 against the spread in those games. The games haven’t been particularly close, with the Utes holding a 37.7-18.8 scoring advantage. But this is a new season, and the Wildcats are playing well. That’s reflected in the college football odds. The last time Utah visited Arizona in 2021, the Utes were 24.5-point road favorites.
Arizona has been strong at home this year, going 4-1 straight-up and 5-0 against the spread. The loss came to Washington, 31-24, as 20-point underdogs. The Utes are 2-2 straight-up and 2-1-1 against the spread on the road this season.
Despite scoring more than 30 points a game this NCAAF season, the Wildcats are just 2-8 in totals. The Utes are 4-6, but Utah is known for its defense and usually plays to a lower total than most teams.
Utah Defense Leads the Way
In the Pac-12 Conference, it’s all about the quarterbacks. You have Caleb Williams, Bo Nix and Michael Pennix Jr. But the Utes didn’t get the message and play old-fashioned football. Utah isn’t going to air it out 40 times a game. It’s not going to throw 30 times a game. The Utes like to run the ball and beat you with their defense.
Utah runs the ball 41.6 times per game and throws 25.1 passes. The Utes are decent on the ground, gaining 4.5 yards per rush against teams that allow 4.2 yards. Utah has run the ball against the teams who don’t stop the rush well, gaining more than 300 yards against the likes of California and Arizona State. Utah doesn’t throw the ball particularly well, but it hasn’t needed to.
The Utes allow 17.8 points to teams averaging 30.8, so the defense has gotten the job done. The team is allowing 3.2 yards per rush and 6.6 yards per pass attempt. Utah is holding teams to 106 yards below their average in total yards.
Arizona Turns It Up a Notch
The Wildcats were 3-3 after back-to-back losses to USC and Washington. But Arizona has won four straight, and some of those NCAA Football games have been against decent teams, such as UCLA and Oregon State. The Wildcat offense has played the most significant role, with the NCAAF scores showing Arizona outscoring teams 31.1-20.9.
Arizona can run the ball, but the passing game is pretty solid. The Wildcats are averaging 158.2 yards on the ground this season and gaining 4.9 yards per carry. Arizona throws for 280.2 yards per game and is gaining 8.0 yards per pass attempt. Being able to run or throw keeps defenses guessing, and the Wildcats have taken advantage of that.
The Utah @ Arizona expert pick notes that while the UA offense gets all of the attention, the defense has picked up its play recently. During the team’s four-game winning streak, Arizona is allowing 18.75 points per game. The Wildcats are strong at stopping the run, allowing 3.2 yards per rush and 99.8 yards per game.
Game Could Be One of Weekend’s Best
The game could very well be one of the best played this weekend. Arizona gets the nod on offense, but the Utes have the better defense. You can make a case for either team, and the game will be a popular one for NCAAF free picks, with handicappers pretty much split on the game.
The Utah @ Arizona expert pick won’t be on the total. The 44.5 is a solid number, and despite both teams having a tendency to go under, the number is low. It’s the lowest total the Wildcats have played to this season and on the lower side for the Utes. But two pretty good defenses suggest the over/under is a good number.