Washington State (-1) (-110) over Utah
Coming off a surprising 24-17 upset win at Arizona as 11-point underdogs, the Cougars are one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time in a decade. The situation certainly favors Mike Leach’s squad as Utah is traveling for the second straight week (and fourth road trip in its last 5 games overall) and will likely be without starting quarterback Travis Wilson, who is reportedly out for the remainder of the season with post-concussion syndrome. The technical analysis also favors Washington State as the Utes are a money-burning 2-12 ATS in their last fourteen conference road games, while Pac-12 teams are a woeful 2-14 ATS after facing Oregon when matched up against an avenging opponent.
The fundamental breakdown of this game is fairly uneventful as Utah is 0.2 yards per play better than average offensively (5.5 yards per play against teams that combine to allow 5.3 yards per play) and 0.6 yards per play better than average defensively (5.3 yards per play to teams that combine to average 5.9 yards per play). On the other hand, Washington State is mediocre both offensively (5.6 yards per play against teams that allow 5.6 yards per play) and defensively (5.9 yards per play to teams that combine to average 5.9 yards per play).
However, Utah is substantially worse away from home where the Utes are averaging just 17.0 points per game at 5.8 yards per pass play and 4.3 yards per play. Moreover, the Utes are averaging a mere 14.3 points over their last three games, including 2.5 yards per rush play, 5.3 yards per pass attempt (37.8% completion rate) and 3.6 yards per play. Conversely, Washington State is averaging 33.7 points per game at home at 5.9 yards per play and 11.6 yards per point.
Martin Stadium should be electric tonight as the Cougars are looking to secure bowl eligibility before the home faithful. And, coach Leach has been reminding his team throughout the week about the beating Utah put on them last year (49-6), and I expect the Cougars to come out with more energy and focus this time around. With Leach standing at 21-8 ATS after losing two of his last three games, take the Cougars and invest with confidence.