On paper there are few reasons as to why one should pick Utah over Arizona tonight, other than the fact Utah is good at home and Arizona is bad on the road. However, I am sticking with my pick that Utah beats the Wildcats. The Utes simply have too much to lose for them to let Arizona beat them. The Utes need to win to keep bowl hopes alive and they want to win for the seniors.
The Utes will have the motivation and the home crowd on their side, I still believe that will be enough for them to win.
Here are the keys to a Utah win.
1. Have a good start. Arizona's offense is too powerful for the Utes to play from behind. Luckily the Utes have improved as a first-quarter team and have been outscored for the season 65-64 in the opening quarter. A nice, long drive featuring a lot of run plays and short passing routes to give quarterback Travis Wilson some confidence would be ideal.
Wilson's confidence seemed shaken this week, better to let him settle in and put the first-quarter effort into John White's hands.
2. Get to the Arizona QB, particularly if it is Matt Scott. Scott is listed as probable after missing the last game with a concussion. The Utes need to get to him early so he never finds his rhythm. Scott might be nervous in the pocket as it is after his latest injury, the Utes would like to keep him dancing back there.
3. Don't give up the big plays to Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey. Carey is averaging 167.8 all-purpose yards. He is going to get some yards tonight, but if the Utes can prevent him from breaking big runs, the damage he can do will be minimized.
Arizona's offense is potent, so a kind of grind-it-out, long drive game would play into Utah's favor.
The Utes only were mildly successful in avoiding big plays in the run game against Washington. Bishop Sankey had 84 of his 162 yards in the first half, which included runs of 17, 15 and 12 yards and two of nine yards.
The Utes did a better job against him in the second half, but they let Keith Price beat them, which leads to key No. 4.
4. Washington converted 7-of-15 third downs, with Price seemingly coming up with a big play any time the Huskies needed it. The Utes were just 1-for-13. The Utes have to improve in that category. Again, the overall key for Utah is long, time-eating drives. The Utes are going to have to convert some third downs in order to be successful there.
5. Play cleaner ball. More than anything, Utah was hurt by overall poor play against the Huskies. There were dropped passes, fumbles and an interception by Wilson. The Utes must play smart ball and avoid those kinds of mistakes and penalties.
- Lya Wodraska
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