Washington Huskies at Utah Utes (+5.5)
Sat. 9/15, 10:00 p.m. EST
Three things you need to know before betting on Washington-Utah:
1. Although Washington will be facing the nation’s top-ranked defense when it travels to Salt Lake on Saturday night, Utah hasn’t exactly been tested through two games this season. The Utes are the nation’s only team allowing an average of fewer than 150 total yards per game and one of only four FBS squads to have allowed fewer than 17 points through two games, but those games have been against FCS Weber State and Northern Illinois of the MAC. Weber State scored only 24 points in the team’s lone other game this season, which was against a weak FCS Cal Poly squad that had managed only a field goal in a 49-3 season-opening loss at FCS North Dakota State. Northern Illinois, meanwhile, came into its game against Utah last Saturday after having managed only 136 total yards in a 33-7 loss to Iowa while failing to score until a meaningless 75-yard drive that ended with 2:12 remaining.
2. Washington rolled to an easy win over North Dakota this past Saturday, but the Huskies had faced a stiff test in a season-opening 21-16 loss to Auburn on a “neutral” field in Atlanta that wasn’t far from the Tigers’ backyard. The Huskies gained 398 yards of total offense against an Auburn squad that had ranked 14th in the nation in total defense in 2017, with 296 of those yards coming from a passing game led by senior quarterback Jake Browning, the 2016 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. Washington also has experience in a backfield led by senior running back Myles Gaskin, the school’s all-time leading rusher. Gaskin’s production has improved each time he has faced Utah’s defense since he tallied 93 yards and a touchdown against the Utes as a freshman in 2015. Gaskin rushed for 151 yards and a score on his last trip to Salt Lake City, in 2016. In a home victory against Utah last season, he racked up 166 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns on 17 carries and six receptions. The Utes possess no such firepower on their offense, having managed only 17 points at Northern Illinois last Saturday with a meager 68 rushing yards on 39 carries. Utah has already committed six turnovers on offense this season, including four in its season opener versus Weber State.
3. Washington has won 10 of 11 all-time meetings between these teams, but far more relevant when looking at this matchup are the four victories the Huskies have in five games against Utah since the start of 2011. Washington has averaged more than 30 points per game over the five head-to-head matchups, and the Huskies have surpassed 30 points in all but one of the five games. Washington is 10-3 ATS as a favorite of between 3.5 and 10 points since Chris Petersen took over as the team’s head coach prior to the 2014 season, and the team is a perfect 8-0 ATS under Petersen when coming off back-to-back games in which it failed to cover the point spread (the Huskies were a 46-point favorite in their 45-3 win over North Dakota last Saturday).
Pick: Washington -5.5
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)