Utah Utes vs. Arizona Wildcats
Date and Time: Friday, September 22, 2017, 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Opening College Football Odds: Utah -3
Utah vs. Arizona TV Coverage: FOX Sports 1
Rich Rodriguez is sticking with his hand in spite of its inconsistencies. Brandon Dawkins is like your proverbial suited connectors in Texas Hold 'Em. There are times that those cards turn into sneaky straights and flushes, but more often than not, you're tossing the cards into the muck after seeing a flop.
Dawkins wasn't just a straight or a flush against UTEP on Friday night. He was both.
Dawkins threw for just 155 yards, but he was all over the place with his legs, rumbling for 133 yards. He totaled six touchdowns on the day, leading the way to what turned out to be a brilliant 35-point second quarter for the Wildcats.
But Dawkins still needs some help as a passer. He only averaged 7.4 yards per pass attempt in spite of his 18-for-21 performance, and that's proof that Rich Rod isn't really letting his quarterback do much in terms of opening up the passing game. Let's also keep in mind that that game came against UTEP, not against a team anywhere near as good as Utah.
If the Utes can survive this one – and it's easy to assume that they will – they'll have finished out a 4-0 September and will likely be sporting a Top 25 ranking going into their game in a couple weeks against Stanford. The key stretch of the season is ahead, and Utah knows that it can't overlook this game, or it'll get bitten by a respectable team that will probably end up in a bowl this year.
Darren Carrington II and Tyler Huntley are really keeping the Utes on the move early in the year. This duo has been fantastic with Carrington hauling in 409 yards and four touchdowns and Huntley leading the team in passing yards (868) and rushing yards (212). Carrington is coming off of a three-touchdown game in a 54-16 victory over San Jose State, the most resounding triumph of the season for the Utes.
Utah's rush defense? No. 1 in America. The Utes are allowing just 48.0 rushing yards per game early in the season.
Let's not mistake Utah for a team that is merely racking up a ton of sacks to aid its rushing defense. Sure, the Utes have nine sacks that have cost opponents 77 yards on the ground, but even if you took that out, they'd still be conceding just 73.7 yards per game and 2.76 yards per carry.
For an Arizona team that absolutely must run the ball well if it hopes to have any chance in this one, this could be a big problem. Dawkins is going to have to loosen up that box and make some throws down the field to be successful.
Utah vs. Arizona Free Picks
Though Rodriguez has a history of doing a great job with this offense, we're not sure this year. Dawkins doesn't do it for us, and we think a big part of the problem is the fact that he just flat out doesn't have many other playmakers on this offense. No one on the team has more than 11 receptions in three games, and the leading receiver by yardage, Shun Brown, has just 126 yards and a score.
This game screams of a romp for the Utes. They should use their stout front seven to sit on Arizona's run game, and there won't be any answers from there from the hosts. This isn't the easiest play posted at all of the top 10 sportsbooks, but it could look like it by the end of this one.
College Football ATS Pick: Utah -3 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Utah 40, Arizona 10