Two-straight conference defeats can be devastating early in the college football season. For both the 19th-ranked Utah Utes and the Washington State Cougars, this Saturday night’s meeting carries importance for just that reason.
Both teams are coming off disappointing defeats to conference foes. The Cougars fell in a 67-63 shootout against UCLA while the Utes struggled to get any offense at all against USC.
The teams will meet on Saturday to get back on track and boast different offensive styles. While Utah can move the ball well on the ground, Washington State follows a pass-heavy approach behind quarterback Anthony Gordon and his nearly 2,000 yards of passing just four games into the season.
Washington State Cougars vs Utah Utes
Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 10 p.m. EST
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by BetOnline
Spread: Utah (-6 at -115)
Over/Under: 57 (O: -112 | U: -108)
Washington State Cougars
The Cougars have the nation’s top passing offense averaging 499.5 yards per game. That’s nearly 70 yards more per game than the second-place team (LSU) and 120 more than the third-place team (Alabama).
Behind that passing juggernaut under the tutelage of Mike Leach is Anthony Gordon. The Cougars QB leads the nation in passing attempts (183), completions (137), touchdowns (21), and yards (1,894) all in just four games. That includes 570 yards and nine (!) touchdowns on 41 of 61 passing against UCLA last week.
Four of those scoring throws went to Easop Winston who now has 348 yards receiving. Although he leads the FBS in receiving touchdowns with eight, he’s not the only one sharing in the wealth or even the Cougars’ leading receiver. Slot target Brandon Arconado has 352 yards on 25 catches.
The Utes have defended against the pass well this season, allowing opponents 222.8 passing yards per game this season. It will still be quite the task to shut down Washington State’s aerial domination, but the Utes are well-equipped with one of the top secondaries in the conference.
Julian Blackmon is the leader with a pair of interceptions in just three games this year. Francis Bernard, JaTravis Broughton, Jaylon Johnson, and Terrell Burgess round out the list of leaders for the Utes.
Offensively, Utah makes its living with a power-running game that helps set up a little play-action. Zack Moss is a force, averaging over six yards per carry with four touchdowns in as many games.
But Moss and starting quarterback Tyler Huntley are banged up and could miss this weekend’s game. Huntley, who appeared hindered by a leg injury last week yet still played the whole game, is intent on playing this week while Moss could return this weekend as well.
This game has offense written all over it, but not if the Utah secondary has anything to say about it. Determined to put its nightmarish performance from last weekend behind, the Utes are hoping to prove why they are so adept at defending the pass.
Regardless of which defense shows up, this game will still be high scoring and could be decided by whichever team forces a field goal on a scoring drive. The O/U should be surpassed but it’s tough to judge with both Huntley and Moss questionable.
Pick: Take the over to be safe. As for the spread, Washington State should cover in a close one, but it will result in another four-point defeat for the Cougars. The final score should be 42-38 Utah.