Game: Utah Utes at Stanford Cardinal
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Odds: Utes -9, Cardinal +9
It’s a PAC-12 Friday in Palo Alto as 5-3 Utah comes to town to face Stanford (3-5). The Cardinal have some very impressive wins on their resume. Stanford started the season 3-2 with a huge 42-24 win over USC in the Coliseum in Los Angeles. A few weeks later, the Cardinal upset a then third-ranked Oregon 31-24.
Since the win over the Ducks, the Cardinal haven’t been very good. They have lost three straight and in two of those games couldn’t manage more than two scores. The win over Oregon is the Cardinal’s only win in their last five games. Utah, on the other hand, is on a different track.
The Utes lost consecutive games to rival BYU (26-17) and San Diego State (33-31) and since has won four of their last five. A 42-34 loss to Oregon State (5-3) is the only defeat since mid-September. In total, the Utes have three losses by a combined 19 points. Head coach Kyle Wittingham’s team is that close to being unbeaten.
Utah does it with balance. They are very good – not outstanding – on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Utes average 225.3 yards passing and 191.3 on the ground. Cameron Rising took over the quarterback duties and has 1,318 yards passing and 12 touchdowns. Rising is also the team’s second-leading rusher (300 yards) behind RB Tavion Thomas (565 yards, 10 TDs). Utah averages nearly 34 points a game and over the course of its last four games, the Utes have scored 34 or more in each.
The Utah defense is also one of the better units in the conference. Wittingham’s defense allows 25.3 points per game and just over 350 yards of offense. Stanford’s offense may find the going pretty tough against Utah. The Cardinal have struggled at times this season and their offensive numbers show that.
Stanford averages just 340.4 yards of offense per game this season. That ranks 103rd in the nation out of 130 teams. Where the Cardinal really struggle is in the running game. Only 13 teams in the country fail to run for at least 100 yards a game. Stanford is one of them. What was once a strength of David Shaw-coached teams is now a glaring weakness. Stanford ranks 123rd in the country averaging just 91.4 rushing yards per game.
In addition to picking up wins over the last month, Utah has been covering spreads too. The Utes are 3-1 ATS in their last four games. They are also 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games against Stanford. The total has gone Over in five of Utah’s last six games and in four of the Utes last five games on the road. The Cardinal trend toward the Under with four of their last five games seeing the total go Under. In the series between these two teams, the total has gone Under in four of the last five games.