Utah 2023 Season Preview and Win Total Prediction

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Ja'Quinden Jackson #3 of the Utah Utes celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions on January 02, 2023. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP.

NCAAF Pick: Utah Over 8½ Wins (+120) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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The Utah Utes have become one of the more consistent programs in college football. Can they finish their Pac-12 tenure strong with at least nine wins this season?

Key Facts

  • Utah has won back-to-back Pac-12 Championships.
  • Cameron Rising is on track to play in Week 1 against Florida.
  • Utah’s Kyle Whittingham is heading into his 19th year as head coach of Utah.

Can Utah Three-Peat?

The Utah Utes have won back-to-back Pac 12 Championships heading into this season. They finished 10-4 overall in Kyle Whittingham’s 18th season as head coach of the program. This will be year 19. He’s gone 154-74 in Utah and rarely gets talked about as a top-tier head coach.

When Utah moves from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 next season, the hype around Utah and Whittingham will be much more substantial. The Utes haven’t made the College Football Playoffs. That’s next on their bucket list. It’s unlikely they’ll make it this year, but with the CFP expansion arriving next season, Utah’s chances at playing for a Championship will increase.

Utah’s non-conference slate is challenging this year, and the Pac-12 has improved since last year. The conference has many great returning quarterbacks, which should make things interesting.

Let’s break down the Utah Utes’ season for 2023.

Cameron Rising’s Health

Cameron Rising’s a legitimate top quarterback in the Pac-12, but he needs to be healthy. Rising suffered a torn ACL in the Rose Bowl, and it seems like he’s on track to begin the season for Utah. They’re facing Florida and Baylor to begin the season. Utah will need him.

Rising threw 3,034 yards passing last season with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He held a QBR of 83.1. The senior is decisive and makes excellent decisions with the ball. He’s also very capable of rushing the football.

Rising will have Devaughn Vele, who led the team in receptions last year. He’ll also have Money Parks, who can make big plays down the field. He averaged 16 yards per catch last season.

Finally, Brant Kuithe had an injury last year, but he’s a tight end that can do significant things in this offense. He led the team in receptions in 2021. Meanwhile, Utah is still going to the ground game more frequently. Ja’Quinden Jackson averaged 6.8 yards per carry and should be a 1-2 punch with Micah Bernard, who added over 1,000 yards himself over the last two seasons.

Utah’s Defense Is Explosive!

If you thought that Utah was dominant defensively last year, you’d be even more impressed this year.

The Utes led the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for loss. They were also second in total defense and became one of the best teams on third downs. Utah also controlled the time of possession well last season, thanks to the defense making big stops in big moments.

Gabe Reid and Mohamoud Diabate were great defensive players at Utah, but they’re gone. Utah’s going to be okay. Almost everyone else is returning for the Utes, including DT Junior Tafuna. At linebacker, the Utes have Karene Reid and Lander Barton. They’ve got all the intangibles at linebacker.

Finally, in the secondary, Cole Bishop is an All-Pac-12 player who added 83 tackles last year. And while Clark Phillips is now with the Falcons, they’ll still have JaTravis Broughton, Zemaiah Vaughn, and an Ole Miss transfer in Miles Battle.

Are 9 Wins Too Many for Utah?

The Utah Utes are projected to win 8.5 games on the offshore sportsbooks. Utah’s Over 8.5 is at +120 on the NCAAF odds, meaning the Under is more likely to hit.

Utah will face Florida at home and Baylor on the road to begin the season. Those are some very intriguing matchups, but on paper, Utah’s the better team. If Cam Rising is healthy and playing, the Utes will likely sneak by both teams.

At 2-0, they’ll face Weber State (Week 3) at home. That would be another win and give Utah a 3-0 record. Utah will get UCLA next at home. That would give them a 4-0 record. However, the Utes will have a challenging matchup against Oregon State on the road this year.

That’s one game where Utah could lose. You’d anticipate and low-scoring game there. Meanwhile, at 4-1, Utah should earn a win over California (Week 7). They’d need just one more win to become bowl eligible. On the road, Utah will likely lose to USC (Week 8), but its matchup against Oregon (Week 9) next could be a sneaky win for the program.

They’d be 6-2 with Arizona State (Week 10) up next. Mark that as a win for Utah. That’s seven wins. On the road against Washington (Week 11) will be challenging. I’ll give them a loss there, but at 7-3, Utah would face Arizona (Week 12) and Colorado (Week 13) in its final two games. Those are wins in my book.

Our Top Pick

I’ve got Utah earning nine wins. Take the plus money and run to the bank when it’s all over for your NCAAF picks.

NCAAF Pick: Utah Over 8½ Wins (+120) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Utah Over 8½ Wins (+120)
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