Arizona vs Utah Pick & Prediction | College Football Betting Preview (Saturday, Nov. 18)
Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Arizona quarterback Noah Fifita.
Arizona vs Utah Pick & Prediction
Let's dive into our Arizona vs Utah pick & prediction for Saturday, Nov. 18th's Pac-12 college football showdown.
Arizona vs Utah meet for a huge top-25 clash in Tucson on Saturday.
Utah's upset bid of Washington came up just short last weekend, as it lost 35-28, which effectively ended its chances of repeating as Pac-12 champions.
The offense has come alive the past two games after a poor showing against Oregon, but the defense needs to be on its game to stop this Arizona offense.
Jedd Fisch has done a masterful job turning around Arizona and now has the Wildcats ranked inside the top 25 after four straight wins over Washington State, Oregon State, UCLA and Colorado.
The Cats are now 7-3, and a win here is only going to improve their chances of going to a big-time bowl game.
Despite putting up 83 points in their last two games, the Utah offense really hasn't been that good over the course of the season. The Utes are averaging only 5.1 yards per play while ranking 97th in EPA/Play and 110th in Finishing Drives.
Bryson Barnes may have had a couple of good games against USC and Washington, but in the seven games he's started this season, he's averaging just 6.8 yards per attempt while making only four big-time throws compared to nine turnover-worthy plays. Plus, he holds an EPA/Pass mark of -0.07.
So, that's probably why Utah is running the ball on 62.7% of its offensive plays.
However, the rushing attack hasn't been that efficient either. The Utes average only 4.1 yards per carry as a team while ranking 82nd in EPA/Rush and 91st in Offensive Line Yards.
Utah's defense is really the only reason it's sitting at 7-3 on the season. The Utes are top-10 in Success Rate Allowed, but they've been prone to giving up a lot of big plays, ranking 110th in explosiveness allowed.
Their secondary has been one of the best in the country, allowing only 6.9 yards per attempt while sitting inside the top 15 in both Passing Success Rate and EPA/Pass Allowed.
However, Michael Penix Jr. just torched them last weekend, throwing for 332 yards and two touchdowns. And if we go back two more weeks to when they played Oregon, Bo Nix averaged 8.0 yards per attempt and posted two touchdowns as well.
So, it seems their numbers are a tad inflated because of some dominant performances against bad quarterbacks.
The Utes have done a good job of stopping the run this season, allowing only 3.1 yards per carry and ranking inside the top 30 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.
However, both Oregon and USC ran for over 5.0 yards per carry against their front seven, so again, Utah's defensive numbers are a little inflated because of how dominant they've been against bad competition.
The Arizona offense has been incredible.
One of the main reasons they're so good is because of how they pass the ball on first down.
Jedd Fisch's play-calling to put his team in positive scenarios on early downs has been nothing short of remarkable. Arizona ranks sixth in both EPA and Positive EPA Play Percentage when throwing the ball on first down, per Sports Info Solutions.
Putting themselves in a good position to not only throw the ball but run the ball with a short distance to gain has greatly benefited the Wildcats' rushing attack. Arizona ranks fourth in the nation in Rushing Success Rate and 25th in EPA/Rush.
Noah Fifita took over as the starting quarterback against Washington and has been nothing short of amazing. In his five starts, he's averaging 8.5 yards per attempt and has a 51.7% Positive EPA Play Percentage.
The reason he has been so good is because of his accuracy. He has an 87.5% catchable pass percentage (ninth in FBS) and a 78.7% on-target percentage (fifth in FBS).
His success has led Arizona to a rank of 11th in Passing Success Rate. But he now has a very big challenge facing one of the best secondaries in the country.
Defensively, Arizona has struggled in the secondary. But it's been incredibly stout up front, which will be big in this game given how often Utah likes to run the ball.
Arizona ranks top-40 in Stuff Rate, Defensive Line Yards and rushing explosiveness allowed, so if the Wildcats can stop the run and put pressure on a below-average quarterback in Barnes to beat them through the air, it's going to give them a great opportunity to win this game.
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Utah and Arizona match up statistically:
Utah Offense vs. Arizona Defense
Arizona Offense vs. Utah Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|Special Teams SP+||51||58|
|Seconds per Play||29.8 (117)||27.7 (83)|
|Rush Rate||62.7% (11)||47.9% (103)|
Utah vs Arizona
Betting Pick & Prediction
Arizona is one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12 right now after its close win over Colorado. Fisch has his team believing it's one of the best in the conference, and this is another opportunity to prove that.
Arizona's ability to stop the run at the line of scrimmage is going to be paramount in this game. If it can do that, it'll put pressure on Barnes to beat the defense over the top, which is something he hasn't done consistently.
The Wildcats boast one of the very few offenses in the country that rank inside the top 10 in both Rushing and Passing Success Rate. A lot of that comes from how successful Fifita has been throwing the ball on first down to put them in fantastic position on second and third down.
The Utes' defensive numbers against good competition have not been impressive whatsoever, so Arizona should be able to move the ball with a lot of success in this game.
Given how well Arizona has been playing as of late, I like the value on the Wildcats at -1.
Pick: Arizona -1
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