AccuScore Game Preview: Utah Utes at Arizona Wildcats
The Utah Utes (4-2, 1-2) look to build on their home win last week versus No. 5-ranked Stanford as they head down to Tucson to face the Arizona Wildcats (3-2, 0-2). Both teams are still a couple games behind PAC-12 South Division leader UCLA in the loss column, but don’t let that fool you – the season is still [fairly] young and this week’s game will impact the teams’ chances at the postseason. Can Arizona bounce back with a win at home after losing their previous two on the road?
AccuScore simulations have the Wildcats as solid 59.6 percent favorites to win this week. The average score after 10,000 simulations is 34-29.5, with Arizona having a 49 percent chance of covering the -4 spread. As the home team and the favorite, Arizona has a much higher probability at a big win (10 pts or more); the probability for a close win (4 pts or less) for either side is much more comparable (10.5% to 9.5%). If Utah can keep their turnover total to one or less (which the simulations say they won’t do), the probability of getting the win is much more realistic. Arizona has been absolutely dominant at home this year, demolishing opponents by an average margin of 30 points.
Passing: B.J. Denker (ARIZ) 270.6 yds | Travis Wilson (UTAH) 227.1 yds
Rushing: Ka’Deem Carey (ARIZ) 112.9 yds | James Poole (UTAH) 91.2 yds
Receiving: Samajie Grant (ARIZ) 78.6 yds | Dres Anderson (UTAH) 68.1 yds
What to Watch For
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. It may sound like lazy analysis, but Utah’s chance at a win this week comes down to taking care of the ball. They committed just one turnover against Stanford last week; QB Travis Wilson threw six interceptions in the loss vs UCLA. Wilson is projected to throw for 1-2 TDs this week, but is almost guaranteed to throw at least 1 INT. Might not be a guarantee for Utah fans to accept very easily. Arizona’s defense allowed 546 total yards and 27 first downs to USC in their loss last week – the secondary has been susceptible to big plays all season long.
Defensively, Utah needs to keep an eye on QB B.J. Denker and tailback Ka’Deem Carey. Denker picked things up in the second half of last week’s game, finishing with 363 yards (28-44) and four TDS. The higher his pass attempt total is, the better it is for the Utes. Denker throwing the ball, especially in the second half, means the defense has found a way to contain Carey on the ground. He has rushed for 100 or more yards in eight straight games; Arizona is 5-3 in those games. He rushed for 138 yards on 21 carries last week vs USC. He’s projected to carry it 19 times for approximately 112 yards this week.
All the data points to an Arizona victory. I, however, put a lot more weight on a team’s momentum and do feel that last week’s victory vs Stanford will help keep the team composed on the road this week. I’ll take the points and Utah, 30-26. Too hopeful?
The always-dependable AccuScore data has the Wildcats by an average margin of 4-5 points.