Utes, Wildcats clash in Salt Lake City

Utes, Wildcats clash in Salt Lake City 

Somewhat quietly, Utah continues to put together a banner campaign out West. But can Kyle Whittingham’s program dispatch a particularly vexing foe for the first time in five years?

Tonight, the Utes try to snap a lengthy losing streak against Arizona. Online sports book BetDSI opened the hosts as 9.5-point favorites over Rich Rodriguez’s crew. The over/under is 53.

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No team has stepped forward to seize control of the Pac-12 South. Utah (4-1), however, keeps turning heads with quality victories. Despite last weekend’s 28-23 setback to Cal, the Utes remained in the Top 25.

Of course, the Wildcats (2-3) always present a daunting challenge for Whittingham’s troops. Arizona won 37-30 in 2015, amassing 462 yards of total offense. Utah also committed two turnovers in that double-overtime affair.

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On this occasion, though, Rodriguez won’t have anything close to a full arsenal. With star junior Nick Wilson hobbled by an ankle injury, converted wide receiver Tyrell Johnson finds himself as the No. 1 option on the ground. Three O-linemen and two defensive starters missed the squad’s 45-24 defeat at UCLA a week ago, too.

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Look for Utah to monopolize the possessions by leaning on the backfield tandem of Zack Moss and Armand Shyne. The X-factor: whether the home group displays any residual effects from the Cal heartbreaker. Nonetheless, we don’t expect the Utes to be thwarted at the goal line here. Bank on them to finally halt the skid.

SATURDAY NCAA FREE PICK: ARIZONA/UTAH UNDER 53 POINTS

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