Every week, we talk to someone who covers the Arizona Wildcats' opponent. This week, we talked to Alex Stark from Block U to learn why the Utah Utes aren't getting any respect and how he thinks the Wildcats might be able to contain the Utes.
1. So…..Utah is the No. 10 team in the country, but opened as only a 4.5 point favorite against an inconsistent Arizona team. As Norm MacDonald would say, what the H?
Alex Stark: I think Utah is probably the least respected top 10 team in the country. They don't play flashy football. They generally don't score a lot of points or put up big numbers in the passing game. They play good defense and special teams to win field position, and they run the football. It's a very old school approach. I also think part of the reason for the close point spread is the fact that it is a road game, and Utah has struggled mightily against Arizona since Rich Rod took over. Remember, Utah was an underdog against both USC and UW on the road. The line honestly didn't surprise me all that much.
2. Devontae Booker has been predictably awesome this season. Is there anything that the Wildcats’ 3-3-5 defense can do to slow him down?
Alex Stark: Arizona's 3-3-5 has stymied Utah the last three years. Booker didn't run wild on Arizona last year in Salt Lake (he had one big run but was largely bottled up). Booker is big, physical, and faster than you might think. He can run inside or outside, and he catches the ball well. Arizona will need to get good penetration into the backfield to prevent Booker from getting to the second level. He gets most of his yards after contact, so wrapping him up is key to preventing him from getting big yards. Utah likes to wear teams down, so Booker often does a lot of damage in the fourth quarter of games. If Arizona has the depth to rotate players, that will certainly help. I think their best hope to stopping him is a guy who I don't believe is playing though: all-everything linebacker Scooby Wright. Booker versus Wright would have been a fun matchup to watch.
3. What aspect of the Wildcats’ game are you most worried about?
Alex Stark: That's easy, the rushing attack. Since Rich Rod took over, Arizona has had three-straight running backs rush for over 200 yards. If Utah can't stop Arizona's rushing attack, they very well might lose. This is Utah's best front seven in awhile (maybe ever), so I think they have a chance to slow down Arizona's rushing attack, but it still worries me until Utah proves they can stop them.
4. What is your prediction for how this game turns out?
I think Utah wins in a high scoring game 42-31. Arizona's offense is too potent to be stopped, but I think Utah can get a few stops and will be able to score enough points to get the W.