In the first College Football Playoff rankings of the season, which were released on Tuesday, Pac-12 title favorite Oregon beat out the likes of Ohio State, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma for a place in the top four.
It would seem that a team in that lofty position would be a bigger favorite to win their conference, right? But that isn’t the case. The Ducks, who lead the Pac-12 North ahead of Washington State, are just a smidge ahead of Utah, who leads the Pac-12 South. The latest college football futures odds at FanDuel Sportsbook have the Ducks at evens to win the Pac-12. Meanwhile, the unranked Utes are just behind at +110.
That speaks more to what oddsmakers think of the Ducks than it does to the quality of the Utes. But after tonight, Utah might have a feather in their cap that Oregon doesn’t: a win at Stanford. No, winning at Stanford does not have the same significance it had a few seasons ago. But the Ducks’ lone blemish this season came last month at Stanford Stadium, a 31-24 overtime loss.
Can Utah do what Oregon could not? Or will Stanford score another upset win in a little Friday night Pac-12 After Dark action? The Cardinal could be without their starting quarterback, as Tanner McKee’s status is up in the air. But in a college football season full of shocks and surprises, that isn’t necessarily a guarantee of defeat. However, a lot will have to go right for Stanford to win, with or without McKee.
Utah Utes (5-3, 4-1 Pac-12) vs Stanford Cardinal (3-5, 2-4 Pac-12), Fox Sports 1, 10:30 p.m. ET
Utah Utes vs Stanford Cardinal College Football Betting Odds
- Utah Utes -420
- Stanford Cardinal +310
- OVER 51.5 (-114)
- UNDER 51.5 (-106)
- Utah Utes -9.5 (-118)
- Stanford Cardinal +9.5 (-104)
Utah Utes vs Stanford Cardinal college football betting odds are via FanDuel Sportsbook as of Friday, November 5, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Utah Utes vs Stanford Cardinal Best Bet
As mentioned above, the Cardinal could be without McKee tonight. In a up-and-down season for Stanford, McKee has shown signs he could be the latest in the line of Stanford QBs to reach the NFL. McKee didn’t throw an interception in his first five games as he led the Cardinal to a 3-2 start, which included their win over Oregon. But over his last three games, he has multi-interception games sandwiched around a solid showing in a loss at Washington State.
Still, the Cardinal’s best chance for a win tonight will be if McKee can somehow play. Behind him is senior Jack West, who has no touchdown passes, two interceptions, 37 career completions, 68 career attempts, and three career starts: 2019 vs UCLA (a 34-16 loss), 2020 at Oregon (a 35-14 loss), and this year’s season opener against Kansas State (a 24-7 loss).
Coach David Shaw said that West and fellow senior Isaiah Sanders, an option-oriented QB, will both play if McKee doesn’t. Sanders has more starting and overall experience than West, as he started six games (and played in 16) at Air Force. But his impact at Stanford has been limited to ten carries over the last two seasons.
Without McKee, the Cardinal will be in an extremely tough spot. With him, they would still be in a tough spot. Stanford’s Shaw-era success running the ball is a distant memory at this point, and it’s a big reason why they are staring at a losing season. They are averaging 3.3 yards per carry and 91.4 rushing yards per game, which makes them one of only eight teams in major college football averaging under 100 rushing yards per game.
Utah’s Offense Should Continue to Thrive
A loss at Oregon State two weeks ago ended Utah’s unbeaten start in conference play, and it’s why the Utes are on the outside looking in of the initial CFP rankings. But Utah bounced back with a 20-point win over UCLA, and they now have full control of the Pac-12 South.
Their offense is a big reason for that recovery, led by quarterback Cameron Rising. Rising replaced Charlie Brewer in Utah’s loss to San Diego State and has sparked their turnaround with his arm and his legs.
It also helps that along with Rising settling in, the Utes have held on to the ball better. They committed eight turnovers in their first four games but have only two since–Rising’s only two picks of the season, both of which came in the first half against Arizona State. And thanks to an 28-0 second half against the Sun Devils, those two picks ended up not mattering much.
With Rising offering a rushing threat in addition to running backs Tavion Thomas and TJ Pledger, the Utes have averaged over 5.7 yards per rush and 216.2 rushing yards per game and have 15 rushing touchdowns in Rising’s five starts. With Stanford struggling to stop the run–five yards allowed per carry and 206 yards allowed per game–Utah should have no issues moving the ball on the ground tonight. That will open things up for Rising to pick Stanford apart through the air.
If McKee does play, Stanford can make a game of it. But even if he does, Utah’s balance and efficiency on offense gives them a clear advantage. The Utes will do what Oregon didn’t and handle business at Stanford Stadium. All four wins with Rising as the starter have been by double digits, and tonight will make it five.
Utah Utes vs Stanford Cardinal College Football Score Prediction
Utah 34, Stanford 16
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