Utah vs Washington State Betting Odds & Picks: Expect Defenses to Shine

Utah vs Washington State Betting Odds & Picks: Expect Defenses to Shine article feature image

Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Utah tight end Thomas Yassmin.

Utah vs Washington State Odds

Thursday, Oct. 27
10 p.m. ET
Utah Odds
-110o / -110u
Washington State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

This Thursday night, we have a solid conference matchup between two teams coming off of byes.

Utah will look to continue its path toward a potential Pac-12 Championship appearance, while Washington State sees a path toward bowl eligibility in its first full season under Jake Dickert.

These two teams match up in a way that almost counteracts their opponent’s strengths, which makes this an interesting game. Neither offense is particularly explosive, which could lead to this being a lower-scoring affair.

Utah Utes

Utes Offense

This Utah offense has been among the best in the country this season. It ranks 11th in the country in Offensive Success Rate, 28th in EPA per Play and 10th as a whole, according to SP+.

Utah has scored at least 26 points in every game this year, which has led it to its impressive 5-2 record.

The Utes will need to pick up this win in order to keep their hopes of defending their conference title alive. They sit 3-1 in conference play with their one loss coming against UCLA. Overall, this is an up year for the Pac-12 at the top, making it harder to reach the conference championship game.

Quarterback Cam Rising has been a key source of Utah’s success on offense. Rising is averaging 0.25 EPA per dropback this season and has 12 passing touchdowns through the air compared to just four interceptions. Rising ranks 17th nationally in overall PFF grade among quarterbacks with at least 20% of their team’s passing snaps.

Despite their success, the one thing this Utah offense lacks is explosiveness. It ranks 116th in FBS in explosiveness, coming in at 96th on the ground and 120th through the air. If the offense can't generate big plays, it may be susceptible to mistakes on long drives.

Utes Defense

Utah’s defense has not lived up to the level it's typically been expected to play at, ranking 82nd in Defensive Passing Success Rate and 59th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate.

It's been susceptible to big plays on the ground, sitting at 109th in EPA per Rush Against and 91st in defending explosiveness on the ground.

This defense has been very hit-and-miss this season. It allowed 16 points or less in a four-game stretch against weaker offenses but then gave up 42 points to both UCLA and USC in back-to-back weeks. 

If Utah’s defense can replicate the former, I would expect it to suppress the Cougars offense easily. But with how inconsistent the Utes have been on that side of the ball, it’s difficult to know what to expect from this unit.

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Washington State Cougars

Cougars Offense

Washington State’s offense has gotten by this season mostly on the back of its run game. It ranks 39th in Rushing Success Rate and 44th in EPA per rush. 

Compare that to its rankings of 64th in Passing Success Rate and 84th in EPA per Dropback, and it's clear where the Cougars' offensive strength lies. 

While rushing has been what they're most successful at, the Cougars tend to pass the ball at a much higher frequency. Washington State ranks second in the nation in pass play rate at 67%.

They don’t run often, but it has worked well when they have.

Cougars Defense

The defense has been the strongest part of this Washington State team. The Cougars rank 39th in Defensive Success Rate and 25th overall in SP+, but they've been much stronger defending opposing passing attacks.

In the same way that Utah has struggled to produce explosive plays this season, the Washington State run defense has been great at preventing them. The Cougars rank 19th in explosiveness against the run. However, they do tend to allow explosive plays in the passing game, ranking 112th in the country.

The key for this Cougar defense will be to keep Cam Rising in check to prevent long pass plays while not getting eaten up by the Utes' rushing attack on early downs.

Utah vs Washington State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Utah and Washington State match up statistically:

Utah Offense vs Washington State Defense
Rush Success1757
Line Yards1965
Pass Success734
Pass Blocking**7380
Finishing Drives6817
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Washington State Offense vs Utah Defense
Rush Success5352
Line Yards57117
Pass Success6865
Pass Blocking**84121
Finishing Drives5476
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling10210
PFF Coverage5243
SP+ Special Teams2346
Seconds per Play27.9 (95)24.6 (30)
Rush Rate54.7% (60)38.6% (128)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Utah vs Washington State Betting Pick

I think things set up well for a lower-scoring affair here. Utah's biggest strength in its passing game lines up with the biggest strength of Washington State's, which is its pass defense. 

This Utes offense averages 27.9 seconds per play, which ranks 95th in the nation.

Utah’s offense lacks explosion, and the Cougars should be able to keep any explosive run plays in check. This will force Utah to run the ball successfully on early downs, which will chew clock.

On the other side, Utah’s defense has struggled to defend elite offenses but has done well against others. Washington State’s offense would fall in the second category, as it hasn't been particularly strong this season.

The Cougars will have to sustain long drives to score. Their passing offense hasn't shown an explosive element despite pass plays making up two-thirds of their offensive plays.

With multiple paths to the under here, I like a bet on this total.

If Utah’s offense does find success, there's still a chance the Cougars offense can't get anything done against this defense and still suppresses the total. I would take this down to 54 points.

Pick: Under 55 ⋅ Play to 54

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