Weber State vs. Utah College Football Odds & Pick: Betting Value on Over/Under (Thursday, Sept. 2)
Chris Gardner / Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Lloyd (left) and Francis Bernard (right).
- The Weber State Wildcats and Utah Utes go to battle in Week 1 college football action at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday night.
- The Utes are huge favorites, but can the Wildcats find a way to hang around?
- Check out Doug Ziefel's full betting breakdown for the game, including odds, a pick, and a prediction, below.
Weber State vs. Utah Odds
The Utah Utes look to make a statement as they welcome the Weber State Wildcats in their opening game of the 2021 season.
Each team comes into the season with lofty expectations within their respective conferences. The Wildcats are looking to repeat as Big Sky champions, whereas the Utes have eyes for a Pac-12 title after an up-and-down 2020 season.
While these two programs may both wind up conference champions come season's end, this matchup will likely be very one-sided — though there is value in the market as the Utes may be caught looking ahead to the Holy War against BYU.
The Wildcats have become a powerhouse in the Big Sky. Led by former Utah assistant Jay Hill, Weber State has captured at least a share of four consecutive conference titles.
They are coming off a successful 2020 spring season where they went 5-0 in the regular season, but they ultimately lost to Southern Illinois in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
Sophomore quarterback Bronson Barron leads the Wildcats offense. He is coming off a solid campaign as a true freshman. He maintained a 139.28 passer rating while throwing seven touchdowns to two interceptions.
Bronson will also have a new weapon on the outside as former USC and UNLV receiver Randal Grimes transferred to the program. At UNLV in 2019, Grimes hauled in 44 passes and racked up 696 yards in the process. Grimes will make a great pairing with last year's leading receiver, Ty MacPherson, who averaged nearly 21 yards per reception.
Hill's offense maintains a balanced attack as the backfield tandem of Josh Davis and Dontae McMillan return. At an almost equal split of the workload last season the two combined for 140 yards per game while scoring six times.
The ground game should remain the strength of this offense as, with contributions from Daniel Wright Jr., the Wildcats averaged 6.2 yards per carry. This offense will face its toughest test in years going up against this Utah front.
The reasons behind Weber State's dominance over the last few years comes from the success of its defensive unit. They allowed the least points per game in the Big Sky at just 20.3.
The Wildcats were also one of the best units in causing Havoc as they led the conference in interceptions, ranked third in sacks, and forced six fumbles. The defense will have to be at its best if they want to hang around in this game.
Kyle Whittingham is entering his 17th year at the helm of the Utah Utes, and he may have his best team in recent history. Utah's shortened 2020 season wound up to be a slight disappointment. They finished 3-2, which was only good for third in the South Division, though it could have been much more had they not blown a 21-point halftime lead to Washington.
Expect the Utes to be fueled by the letdown of last season, as 10 starters return on offense along with nine on the defensive side. They also added multiple power-five transfers, including their new starting quarterback.
The strength of this Utah team is in the trenches, and their offensive line could be considered the best during coach Whittingham's tenure.
There is now a great deal of talent standing behind that offensive line. Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer is a star. He was only the second player in Baylor history to eclipse 10,000 yards in total offense. He also accumulated 87 touchdowns over that time, which included 22 on the ground.
Though Brewer's ability will open up the offense, Utah has a tradition of being a run-first team. The Utes brought in two transfers with championship-level experience.
T.J. Pledger from Oklahoma, a four-star recruit, shined when given the opportunity to start last season against Texas. Pledger exploded with 131 yards and two touchdowns. Joining him is LSU transfer Chris Curry. Curry played in 27 games but filled in admirably for Clyde Edwards-Helaire during LSU's National Championship run.
This duo could be a formidable one-two punch as they bring different styles to the field. Pledger is more of a scatback who possesses the ability to catch passes. Curry is a downhill runner who does not shy away from contact.
Pledger and Curry running behind the Utes offensive line will be a tall task for the Wildcats.
Like their offensive line, the Utes will continue to be dominant in the trenches with their prowess on the defensive line. Last season the unit allowed 3.8 yards per rush and tallied 10 sacks.
They will be very experienced in the linebacking and defensive back corps as five of the back seven are returning starters, including linebacker Devin Lloyd, who opted to delay his NFL career.
Weber State vs. Utah Betting Pick
The line moved to a whopping -35 in favor of Utah after opening at 27.5. Conversely, the total has started to drop, and that's where the value remains.
Utah will dominate the line on both sides of the ball. It should be able to run the ball and stop the run at will. The only variable that remains to be seen is how long the starters will remain in the game for Utah.
The Utes may score early and often, though it will only be for about three quarters. The Wildcats are going to have trouble moving the ball, even against Utah's backups. This game will be a sweat, but it stays under.