Two of the top teams in the Pac-12 square off as the No. 16 Utah Utes head to Tucson to battle the No. 19 Arizona Wildcats.
This ranked-on-ranked matchup projects to be a close game — a glance at this week’s college football odds shows Arizona -1 at home while the total is at 45.
Let's take a closer look at each offense’s respective forecasts as I believe there could be some value in the total.
Check out which side of the total I’m on for this expected hard-fought game between two quality teams and stay tuned for my full college football picks for Utah vs. Arizona on Saturday, November 18.
Utah vs Arizona best odds
Utah vs Arizona picks and predictions
This is a fascinating matchup between two high-caliber teams. Both sides have been adept at covering spreads — the Utah Utes are 6-3-1 ATS while the Arizona Wildcats are 8-2 ATS — so I’m going to examine the total instead of chancing a side.
It’ll be strength-on-strength when Arizona has the ball. The Wildcats have one of the best receiving duos in the nation as Tetairoa McMillan and Jacob Cowing have combined for 133 receptions, 1,394 receiving yards, and 18 touchdowns. Cowing was nicked up against Colorado last week but reportedly should be good to go this weekend.
In addition to the skill positions, Arizona should have the advantage at quarterback as Noah Fifita has played well after emerging mid-year as the program’s new QB1. He’s completed 73.7% of his passes while tossing 16 touchdowns vs. just four interceptions to lead a balanced offense that ranks 15th nationally in EPA per play and eighth in success rate.
This is undoubtedly a tough matchup against a Morgan Scalley-coordinated Utah defense surrendering just 17.8 PPG and 299.8 total yards per game. The Utes rank 15th in success rate defensively and have suffocated nearly every non-elite offense it faces. Most folks may not think of Arizona’s offense as elite but the metrics say otherwise.
When Utah has the ball, it will be inspired by recent performances in which it is averaging at least 6.7 yards per play in three of its last four games. That’s a notable improvement as Andy Ludwig’s offense struggled to generate much of anything for large parts of the season.
Quarterback Bryson Barnes (6.8 yards per attempt, 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions) will face an Arizona defense that is vastly improved from a year ago but still has some holes. The Wildcats check in at 61st in EPA per play, 73rd in success rate, and 30th in explosiveness defensively, and by my estimation have played pretty well this season while vastly outproducing expectations.
Here’s what Utah’s offense boils down to, in my opinion — it works against bad defenses, and it usually doesn’t work against good defenses. That may sound like a simplistic viewpoint, but that’s what the results have shown us so far this year. Arizona’s defense has been fine this season and I’d qualify it more on the “good” side than the “bad” side, so I don’t expect many touchdowns from the Utes in Tucson.
This should be a low-scoring game where a Wildcats’ offensive explosion on the other side of things would be a surprise. The Utes are 2-8 O/U as a dead-set Under team this season and that makes sense considering the sheer amount of injuries they’ve suffered offensively while remaining a terrific defensive squad. Arizona has cashed the Under in all five home games this season thanks primarily to a much-improved stop unit. I’ll bet on yet another Under on Saturday.
My best bet: Under 45 (-108 at DraftKings)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.
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Utah vs Arizona same-game parlay
This will be a two-leg SGP based on how I see this game playing out. The first leg is my best bet on the full game Under while the second is a bet on wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan to score Arizona’s first touchdown of the game.
It’s a shame that many of McMillan’s games have been broadcast on the Pac-12 Network as he’d be one of the sport’s brightest stars if he played for a national TV audience and got the recognition he deserves. That aside, he’s one of the country’s most talented wide receivers and has racked up 860 receiving yards and eight touchdowns this season, putting himself in position to hear his name called early when he presumably enters the NFL Draft after next season when he is first eligible.
We saw Arizona take to the air recently when it faced another tough run defense, throwing for 300 yards and three scores against the UCLA Bruins while mustering just 129 rushing yards. Something similar happened the week prior when tossed 275 yards and three scored against the Oregon State Beavers while the rushing attack mustered just 88 yards on 30 carries. McMillan will be heavily relied upon in this spot and I like most of his props as an underrated asset in the market each week.
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Utah vs Arizona spread and Over/Under analysis
Most books currently have Arizona -1 available, although there’s also a +1 showing. The total ranges between 44.5 and 45.5 depending on where you look, although the 45.5 is currently only available with slightly juiced odds — hence my best bet at 45.
The metrics will tell you that Arizona is the side. The Wildcats are near-elite on offense (15th in EPA per play, eighth in success rate) and hold a serviceable defense (61st in EPA per play, 73rd in success rate). Utah, meanwhile, is underwhelming offensively (97th in EPA per play) and solid defensively (32nd in EPA per play). With Arizona playing at home, they’d seem to be the play.
Utah is typically a team that plays better at home while having a few more vulnerabilities on the road, although it looked fine recently in a win over USC and a close loss to undefeated Washington, both on the road. The Utes are 2-1-1 ATS in away games.
Arizona has been one tough cookie at home, going a perfect 5-0 at home including a win over the 8-2 Oregon State Beavers.
If I’m playing, I’m taking the home team. The Wildcats have been a wagon this season at 8-2 ATS and that’s not something I want to step in front of unless I have a darn good reason.
Utah vs Arizona betting trend to know
Arizona is 0-5 O/U at home this season. Find more college football betting trends for Utah vs Arizona.
Utah vs Arizona game info
|Location:||Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ|
|Date:||Saturday, November 18, 2023|
|Kickoff:||2:30 p.m. ET|
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