Despite coming up short against No. 10 USC last week, Arizona Football (3-5, 1-4) returns to action against No. 12 Utah (6-2, 4-1).
Coming off a competitive and tough loss to No. 10 USC, Arizona Football resumes Pac-12 play by returning to action against a very skilled and physical No. 12 Utah team.
Heading up to Sale Lake City, the Wildcats will have a marquee matchup against the Utes, and once again the Wildcats should have yet another difficult challenge on their hands.
Coming in, the Utes should be riding high having won two-straight which includes a hard-fought, 21-17 win over Washington State in Pullman, as well as a 43-42 barn burner against USC just two weeks ago.
As Arizona enters this one as double-digit underdogs this week, so the belief is that the Wildcats will struggle. However, perhaps the Wildcats can shock the world and score the upset here. If that is to happen, it is going to take one hell of an effort as well as a bit of luck!
Getting to Know the details about Arizona Football’s opponent, the Utah Utes.
Team: Utah Utes
Conference: Pac-12 Conference
Current Record: 6–2 (4–2)
Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham enters his 18th season as head coach as Utah where he is currently 6–2, and has the Utes sitting atop the Pac-12 South standings.
Taking over for Urban Meyer in 2004 for the Utes’ bowl game, Whittingham led Utah to a 35-7 victory over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl.
Whittingham was quickly promoted to head coach in 2005, and since then he is 150–72 (92–56) overall with 15 bowl appearances and a 11–4 bowl record.
2021 Record: Finishing the 2021 season with a disappointing, 10–4 (8–1) record, the Utes ended their year with a 38–10 win over No. 10 Oregon in the conference championship game before advancing to the Rose Bowl. The Utes lost to No. 6 Ohio State 48-45.
Key Returners / Starters:
Running more of a Spread offense with an emphasis of running the football downhill, this is a skilled and physical group that can score points and move the football. Look no further than their 38.2 points per game and 456.6 yards per game average.
Led by quarterback Cam Rising, Cam returns to the Utes after bursting on to the scene in 2021 after transferring from Texas. The former Longhorns quarterback has been good this year as well, passing for 1,855 yards and 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions on 148 of 215 attempts. And beyond his stellar arm, Rising is a skilled runner as he is currently second on the team in rushing with 308 yards and six touchdowns on 47 attempts.
Spreading the field, Rising likes to get the ball in the hands of his offensive weapons which include running back Micah Bernard, talented receivers Dalton Kincaid and Devaughn Vele, and tight end Brant Kuithe.
Behind Rising is a monstrous backfield. Together, the Utes use several different backs, but it is Tavion Thomas, Jaylon Glover, and Bernard who get a majority of the work. Look for the Utes to get them going early, especially against and Arizona run defense that has struggled mightily this season.
Running more of a base, 4-3 defense, the Utes also use several coverages which including a Cover-1, Cover-2, Cover-3, and Cover-4.
This defense is predicated on using its skill and talent, and overall, the Utes plays with a ton of toughness and physicality. The Utes like to put seven guys in the box, and defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley has this group playing well in 2022.
Holding opponents to 339.4 yards per game, the Utes are also allowing just 21.6 points per game.
Largely led by its playmakers, the Utes get significant contributions from defensive backs R.J. Hubert and Cole Bishop as well as well as linebacker Karene Reid and former Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate.
Up front, Utah has tremendous size and talent, and this is an aggressive group that is holding opponents to 129.5 yards rushing per game, and has an impressive 19.0 sacks through eight games.
Defensive linemen Van Fillinger, Gabe Reid, Jonah Elliss, and Junior Tafuna are a big reason for that, and they will challenge Arizona’s offensive line.
However, the secondary is where perhaps Utah’s biggest challenge will be. Overall, the Utes are holding opponents to just 209.9 yards passing and an average of 1.5 touchdowns per game. The Utes are holding opposing teams to a 61.7 completion percentage.
Largely led by defensive backs Hubert and Bishop, the Utes also get great contributions from Clark Phillips III who leads the team with five interceptions, as well as Jatravis Broughton. Together, they like to play aggressively and they do a great job of forcing things for opposing quarterbacks.
Jayden de Laura will have to make smart choices with the football this week if the Cats hope to be successful on offense.
Game information and details for Arizona Football:
When: Saturday, November 5th, 2022
Time: 4:30 PM MST
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium – Salt Lake City, UT (51,444)
Overall Series Record: 19-24-2 Utah. Having met several times in their collective history, this is a series that Utah has controlled, especially as of recent as the Utes have won the last five-straight meetings. Arizona’s last win against the Utes came in 2015 when the Wildcats narrowly beat Utah at home by a 37-30 final.
Last Meeting vs. Arizona: Last year in Tucson, the Wildcats battled and competed against the Utes, but unfortunately they came up short as Arizona lost 38-29.
My Prediction: Utah 42 Arizona 31 – Once again, I think Arizona competes, but against a talented team like Utah, they just don’t have enough skilled guys to win this one, particularly on defense.
And with the weather looking cold and rainy this weekend, look for Utah to play physical and run the football en route to the big win against the Wildcats.