Arizona enters at 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12, coming off a home win against Cal. Utah is 3-2 and 1-2, respectively, coming off a huge win against No. 14 Stanford.
The Utes are currently 13.5-point favorites over the Wildcats, with an over/under of 50.5
Here is how we think Friday’s game will go down. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Christopher Boan — Utah wins 24-21
Utah’s offense is pretty damn bad, but their defense (coached by former Oregon State coach Gary Andersen) is not. I expect this one to be the type of butt-ugly defensive battle that will further cause the masses to avoid ESPN on Friday night like the plague, but believe that Utah’s special teams will come through to bury the Wildcats. This one can go either way, given the sorry state of both offenses this season, but I’ll go with the home side in a close one in the SLC.
Gabe Encinas — Utah wins 17-13
I think this is a close, low-scoring game. I don’t really trust either offense, Utah has the best defense in the league and Arizona’s has been improving every week.
This could get ugly, I could see this ending up a 38-14 game. But after Arizona proved me wrong last week — I was the only one on the staff to pick Cal — I’m giving Arizona some credit here.
From the beginning, when I predicted nine wins for Arizona, the short week traveling to Utah always worried me, so knowing what the offense is now, I still can’t say it’s a win.
Zant Reyez — Utah wins 31-17
I’m clinging to some hope Arizona steals one in Salt Lake City, but the way the offense is moving, I just don’t see it.
I think many people are at the point to where we want to see improvement of any sort from the team. The defense is showing flashes, but I don’t want to see a step back.
Who knows what Khalil Tate and company will do this week. Will he run? Can he run? Will he hobble off the field after one tackle? The former Heisman contender is giving fans more wondering than wowing.
But as this game is under the Friday night lights, I will part with the famous words coach Eric Taylor said to his teams before they took the field: Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
Brandon Combs — Utah wins 24-21
This is a game I figured the ‘Cats would lose before the season began, and I still feel that’s the case.
Arizona’s defense is starting to step up and play like a legit Pac-12 defense. They have forced seven turnovers the past two games. That is ridiculous. The issue will come with the offense. The inconsistency is still there and I’m not sure a hostile Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City is the place it’ll fine consistency.
On the other sideline, the Utes have the best defense in the Pac-12, which isn’t necessarily news to anyone. Last week, the offense sprang to life against Stanford and won handily against the Cardinal. I believe this was a fluke. I do not believe it’s the mark of the second coming of the mighty Ute offense. Friday, Utah’s offense will be back to its normal self.
That said, I still don’t think it’s enough for UA to win in an extremely hostile environment and on a short turnaround. It’ll be close and I would love to be proven wrong here. Especially since Arizona is riding some good momentum heading into this game.
Brian J. Pedersen — Utah wins 26-17
Arizona’s defense has made tremendous strides this season, no more so than in the last two weeks. If not for that side of the ball it would have lost to Cal because of how atrocious the offense has looked, and the defense is what will have to be the side that keeps the Wildcats in this game.
Utah is stout defensively, particularly against the run, which means Khalil Tate has to be razor sharp with his passing. That’s yet to be the case this season and if he makes a mistake or two it could be disastrous.
The Wildcats can certainly win this game but unless the offense suddenly looks much better they won’t be able to put up enough points for a victory in Salt Lake City.
Ryan Kelapire — Utah wins 31-17
I foresee Arizona having trouble with the size and athleticism of Utah’s front seven, so I think the Utes will be able to stifle UA’s running game.
And we’ve seen how much Arizona’s offense struggles when it can’t move the ball on the ground, and I don’t expect Friday to be any different unless Tate connects on some deep throws down the field.
This will certainly be an interesting game for Arizona’s defense. It will likely need to force a turnover or two — at least — to win this game, and it has been on a hot streak in that department lately, after generating takeaways seemed like an impossible task in the first couple weeks of the season.
Really, the only way I see UA winning this is one if it’s an ugly, defensive battle and Utah’s offense happens to make more mistakes than Arizona’s.
But since the Utes are at home and Arizona had to travel during a short week, I think Utah wins fairly comfortably.