Utah Utes 2023 College Football Preview
July 15, 2023
Record – 10-4
ATS – 8-6
“And I’m spent.” <Austin Powers> <The Spy Who Shagged Me>
The Utes treated the college football world to some exciting games from start to finish. It all began with a wild game at THE SWAMP (L 29-26) and ended with a 47-24 POLEAXING of USC in the PAC-12 Championship Game. And how could you forget the crazy 43-42 home win over those same USC Trojans during the regular season? They lost to Penn St in the Rose Bowl but it was another (yawn) successful run for the mighty Utah Utes.
Utah Utes 2023 Outlook
The Utes were potent on offense once again LY (38.6 PPG, #11 FBS) and the STRAW that stirs the DRINK is back for one more season. QB Cameron Rising is one of most dangerous dual-threat weapons in the country (3,034, 26-8 TD to INT; 465 rush, 6 TD) and he’s also tougher than BOOT LEATHER. Rising is coming off a torn ACL but appears to be ahead of schedule and ready to roll for the 2023 campaign. The Utes lose their top-two RBs but note that they had four RBs rush for between 360 and 700 yards LY so a committee approach is just fine by them. Thankfully, they’ve still got at least two promising RBs in Ja’Quinden Jackson and Jaylon Glover. The WR/TE group is sneaky-good even after losing star TE Dalton Kincaid to the first round of the NFL draft. Devaughn Vale and MONEY Parks will be an effective 1-2 WR combo and we expect star TE Brant Kuithe to come back strong after his brutal injury LY. They’ll be solid again up front but will need to introduce a new starting LT and center. There are some obvious health concerns but this still looks like a mighty dangerous offense.
There were times LY when the Utah defense just couldn’t get a stop, but those instances weren’t that often. They finished ranked #2 in the PAC-12 in total defense (334 YPG) and #2 in rushing defense. They also PENETRATED effectively and tallied 41 sacks for the 2nd consecutive season. BAD NEWS, AHOY for PAC-12 rivals as the defense returns nine starters and looks ready to dominate. The defensive line will be devastating with four starters returning for duty and they’re extremely deep and talented at the position. Good luck running inside as they’re ridiculously yuuuge on the interior. The LB unit is stacked with the return of #3 tackler Karene Reid (9.5 TFL) and the addition of Levani Damuni who did fine work with Stanford. Losing an AA CB on the back end isn’t ideal (Clark Phillips) but they’ve still got one of the best safeties in the PAC-12 in Cole Bishop (#1 tackler, 6 TFL LY).
The Utes have been a bit stinky on special teams the last two seasons and the great PHIL STEELE has ranked them #106 and #115 the L2Y. Cole Becker rolls in from Colorado to try and upgrade the PK position (11/13 FG LY) but they’ll need to get better performance out of punter Jack Bouwmeester (39.2, 37.9). They could use some spice at PR and KR.
Overall – WHOA, NELLIE. Week one features a fantastic match-up as the Gators travel to Salt Lake City for part two of MORMONS VS MANATEES. Utah has another tough non-conference date the following week (at Baylor). Unfortunately, the Utes draw all three of the other PAC-12 BIG ‘UNS and play two of them ON THE HIGHWAY (USC, Washington).
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – California (Oct 14)
This doesn’t look like a great spot to back the home favorite as the game falls between BIGGIE SIZE road conference games (Oregon St, USC).
Season Win Total
Market consensus July 15
Over 8.5 +115
Under 8.5 -145
That number looks about right. Our best guess is that the outcome of this market will be decided in week one. If they can skate past Florida we give them a 70/30 shot to hit the over. If they lose? Let’s call it 30/70. The schedule doesn’t do them any favors as they’ve got a number of nasty PAC-12 road tests.
HC Kyle Whittingham has an amazing long-term record vs the point-spread as he’s 125-100-3 (55.6%) vs the number. He’s been particularly deadly in the role of road underdog (25-15, 62.5%).
This will be another exciting season for Utes’ fans. The roster is loaded, and if they can feature a healthy Cameron Rising for the full season, look out. This is easily one of the most talented teams in the PAC-12 but the tough road schedule might lead to their downfall. We’ll call for eight or nine wins and they’re more likely to overachieve than underwhelm. Good luck, Utah!