Utah Betting Odds Preview
Utah was a power player in the Mountain West Conference for more than a decade, winning four conference titles and carrying that conference's banner into 11 bowls games. But since joining the Pac-12 two seasons ago the Utes are just 13-12 overall, 7-11 in conference play, and last year missed a bowl for the first time since 2002. What's that saying about being a big fish in a small pond? This year Utah will try to start another bowl streak, but it won't be easy, playing nine games in what has become one of the toughest conferences in the country.
Utah had 16 starters back last year from a team that went 8-5 in 2011, and few suspected a nine-year bowl streak was in jeopardy. But a couple of key injuries and close losses later the Utes were home for the holidays, watching the bowls on TV. Early on Utah lost for the first time in 13 games to rival Utah State (in overtime), later blew a 14-point lead and lost to USC by 10, then lost to UCLA by a touchdown, then out-gained Oregon State but lost 21-7. Then after a couple of Pac-12 victories, with bowl eligibility on the line, the Utes led Arizona into the fourth quarter but lost by 10 points. So Utah finished 5-7 overall, 3-6 in Pac-12 play, and 5-7 ATS.
This year, as the Utes look to rebound, they return 12 starters, second-fewest in the league. Six starters are back on offense, including sophomore QB Travis Wilson, who completed 63 percent of his throws as a freshman last year, and last year's top three receivers; and six starters return on defense, including last year's top four tacklers. But they'll have to replace three starters on the offensive line and two on the defensive line. This year's schedule is even tougher than last year's, considering that after missing Stanford and Oregon the last two seasons the Cardinal and Ducks both pop up on Utah's slate.
The Utes open with home games against Utah State and Weber State, and the going then gets really rough, because the next eight games are against teams that made bowls last year and will probably make bowls this year. Utah hosts Oregon State, visits BYU, hosts UCLA and Stanford, visits Arizona and USC, hosts Arizona State, and visits Oregon. The Utes then finish with Washington State and Colorado, but by then bowl-eligibility might be out of reach. Utah might be an underdog in four of its five conference home games, and in all four of its conference road games.
Pac-12 Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of August 11
Oregon State +1050
Arizona State +1100
Washington State +6000