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Oskeim’s Free Pick Winner for Friday, November 5: Utah at Stanford

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Oskeim Sports gives a detailed game preview and free pick winner in Friday’s college football game between the Utah Utes and Stanford Cardinal.  Be sure to check back daily for more free pick winners from the #1 Ranked handicapping service in the nation.

These teams are trending in opposite directions as Utah enters off an impressive win over UCLA and controls its destiny in the Pac-12 South, whereas the Cardinal have lost three straight (and 4 of their last 5) over which time they averaged just 18 points per game. Stanford could be without starting quarterback Tanner McKee for this game, who is listed as questionable with an unspecified injury or illness.

“We will see over the next day or so if he is ready to go, Stanford head coach David Shaw said of McKee. “If he’s not, Jack West and Isaiah Sanders, honestly both probably have to play.” The sophomore has thrown for 1,916 yards, 14 touchdowns to 5 interceptions, and has completed 65 percent of his passes.  Whoever is under center for Stanford tonight will be under pressure due to an offensive line that ranks 98th in the nation in pass blocking, per Pro Football Focus (PFF).

Stanford’s offensive line ranks 105th in Sack Rate (4.8%) and 106th in Standard Downs Sack Rate (3.5%), per Football Outsiders.  The same offensive line checks in at 128th in Average Line Yards (3.09), 125th in Standard Down Line Yards (3.02) and 128th in Passing Downs Line Yards.

Shaw’s tenure at Stanford could be nearing an end, especially if the Cardinal could fail to secure a bowl berth for the third consecutive season. After posting a 73-22 SU and 55-37-2 ATS record in his first eight years with the program, Shaw is just 11-15 SU and 9-17 ATS over the past two-plus seasons.

Stanford’s defense is giving up more yards than its offense gains for the third straight season and the Cardinal are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games and 0-4 ATS in their last four home tilts.  In contrast, Utah’s offense is average 38.7 points in its last four games and the Utes are a profitable 21-7 SU and 20-8 ATS in their previous 28 conference clashes, including 14-1 SU and 12-3 ATS in the past fifteen.

Utah owns an offensive grade of 80.3 at PFF (36th best in the nation), including a rushing grade of 86.2 (32nd).  In contrast, Stanford’s offense is ranked 99th in the country according to the metrics used by PFF (68.5), failing to eclipse an offensive grade of 70 or better in six of its seven games this season.  Stanford has been even worse on defense in 2o21, earning a PFF grade of just 60.1 (109th).

The Utes’ powerful ground attack should easily move the chains against Stanford’s 125th-ranked run defense (42.6 per PFF).  Finally, Utah boasts a +0.93 yards per play margin this season, whereas the Cardinal have a -0.06 yards per play margin. Lay the points with Utah as Oskeim’s Free Pick Winner for Friday, November 5.