Bet Underrated 2018 Utah Utes Season Win Total
by Fairway JayDon't Underestimate the 2018 Utah Utes!
The PAC-12 was down last season, and so were the Utah Utes, who finished 7-6 SU but just 3-6 SU in conference play. The Utes did win their fourth straight bowl game in the last four years, and 14-year head coach Kyle Whittingham appears to have a stronger team in Salt Lake City this season. Consistency has been a trademark for Utah under Whittingham. So has a lack of national notoriety.
Last year the Utes defense allowed just 338 yards per game; it’s best production in more than seven seasons, but they have never allowed more than 400 yards per game during that stretch. While the 2018 Utah Utes won't get the blue chip prospects that USC or UCLA get as PAC-12 South competitors, they'll play as a collective and cohesive team with capable players and strong coaching that demands discipline.
This year’s team is focused and more talented, and believes it is championship caliber. They have a team capable of winning the PAC-12 South, and the homecoming game Oct. 20 vs. USC will be a huge one against a Trojans team that is picked to win the South division. Utah lost at USC last season 28-27 as a 13-point ‘Dog after a failed 2-point attempt following a TD in the final minute of the game. They also lost at Washington 33-30 as a 17-point ‘Dog late in the season on a last second field goal. Both those games are circled at home this season and especially USC. The Utes open PAC-12 play at home against Washington Sept. 15 as an underdog, as Washington is the best team and class of the PAC-12 this season.
The 2018 Utah Utes have an experienced quarterback and solid returning offensive starters that should produce even stronger numbers than the 29 PPG and 413 YPG produced last season. The passing game at 249 YPG was the best in more than seven seasons, and dual threat QB Tyler Huntley returns and operates behind a very experienced offensive line.
The defense should be solid again and the depth in the secondary is strong. Add in a Lou Groza Award place kicker and Ray Guy Award punter and the kicking games and special teams will be excellent and another underrated part of a team’s success.
Utah plays the top PAC-12 teams at home against Washington, USC, Arizona and Oregon. Those will be tough challenges, but the altitude has always been an advantage for the Utes, who are 77-26 in their last 103 home games. The road games and schedule are more manageable, with all teams except Stanford showing a season win total of 6.5 or less.
The schedule is pretty tough and especially at home, but OVER 7 wins still looks more likely for the 2018 Utah Utes this season.