There is currently a four-way tie atop the Pac-12 South Division, and two of those teams will square off on Saturday when the No. 13 Utah Utes host the No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils. Both teams are 2-1 in conference play as well as 5-1 overall coming into the contest.
The Sun Devils have won two straight since their only loss of the season against Colorado, topping California and Washington State, with a bye week in between the two victories. The Utes come in on their own two-game winning streak, having topped Washington State and Oregon State by a combined score of 90-20 since a loss at USC a month ago.
The moneyline for this contest has the Arizona State Sun Devils +425 and the Utah Utes -550. Utah is favored by 13.5 points at home, while the over/under for the game has been set at 45.
The Sun Devils come into this contest allowing just 91.7 yards per game on the ground, which is good for second in the Pac-12 and 12th nationally. They also ranked third in the conference and 16th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 17.7 points per game. Arizona State makes teams work to get down the field, allowing just seven plays over 30 yards this season and none over 50 yards. The Sun Devils are paced by defensive back Evan Fields’ 41 tackles, while defensive end Jermayne Lole has recorded a team-best 2.5 sacks, with the team notching just 10 so far this season.
The Sun Devils rank 92nd in the country in scoring offense at 25.3 points per game, but they are going for their 126th consecutive game of scoring in double digits, which would set the all-time record for FBS football. Running back Eno Benjamin leads the Pac-12 and is ninth nationally with nine total touchdowns, including a league-best seven rushing scores. The junior is only averaging 88.2 yards per game on the ground, though, and he could have a tough time against the Utah defense in this one.
As good as Arizona State’s run and scoring defenses are, Utah’s are even better. The Utes are allowing just 13.2 points per game (second in Pac-12, eighth nationally) and 52.8 yards on the ground (first in Pac-12, second nationally). Senior defensive end Bradlee Anae has four sacks and five tackles for loss, while sophomore linebacker Devin Lloyd has three sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss this season. Senior linebacker Francis Bernard has been all over the field this season, leading the Utes with 43 tackles while tying for the team lead with two interceptions.
Offensively, quarterback Tyler Huntley has been efficient, completing 75.6 percent of his passes while racking up 1,393 yards and nine touchdowns through the air. He’s also second on the Utes in rushing with 197 yards and three scores. Utah’s top ground gainer is Zack Moss, who has 514 yards and six touchdowns in five games this season, having bounced back for 121 yards and two scores last week after missing the win over Washington State with a shoulder injury.
Utes Earn Win But Don’t Cover
Utah has the better defense in this game as well as home-field advantage. While Arizona State will keep this one close, the Utes will pull it out in the end. I don’t see the Sun Devils losing by two touchdowns in this one, though, so I’m taking Arizona State +13.5 in this one.