The Utah Utes are the two-time defending Pac-12 champions. They defended their 2021 title in 2022, beating USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Las Vegas. Utah beat USC twice, establishing itself as the ultimate Pac-12 obstacle for the Trojans and their credentialed head coach, Lincoln Riley. Utah will try to go for the three-peat this season, but losing elite players such as tight end Dalton Kincaid and cornerback Clark Phillips will create some roster challenges and force coach Kyle Whittingham to make substantial adjustments this season. It will be fascinating to see if Utah can at least get back to Vegas for the conference championship game and give itself a chance to win three straight Pac-12 championships.
Utah Utes 2023 Futures
Odds To Win Pac-12: +550 at BetOnline
Odds To Win National Championship: +6000 at BetOnline
Best Bet To Win Heisman
Quarterback Cam Rising is priced at +8000 to win the Heisman, whereas tight end Brant Kuithe won’t be found on some odds boards and – if he is on any boards – will be regarded as much more of a longshot (beyond +25000 and maybe +30000) in the Heisman competition. However, Kuithe has something Rising does not: a clean bill of health. It is expected that Rising will not be ready for the August 31 home opener against the Florida Gators. He might be ready for Week 2 on September 9 against the Baylor Bears.
If Rising misses the Florida game but Kuithe plays well in that contest and helps Utah win, Kuithe will get a head start on Rising in the Heisman derby. If Kuithe – who was tremendous for Utah in its 2021 Pac-12 championship season before getting injured in 2022 and giving way to Kincaid at the tight end spot – returns to his 2021 level of performance and makes enough game-changing plays in a contentious Pac-12 Conference, he will get a look as a Heisman candidate, particularly if the Utes win the conference and make another New Year’s Six bowl game. Cam Rising, due to his injury, might need a little more time to settle into the season. Kuithe could be the surprise Heisman candidate at Utah few national commentators know about.
Pick: Brant Kuithe
Best Player Prop To Bet
Cam Rising Passing Yards
Cam Rising’s injury and the likelihood that he will miss the Florida game will set him back. He might play against Baylor in Week 2. If he does , it will be his first of the season. He might face an adjustment period in that game which will limit his production against the Bears.
All in all, it might take a full month before Rising fully settles into the season and begins playing at the standard he expects from himself, which is also the standard Utah expects from him. The injury situation is likely to push down Rising’s overall passing yardage numbers and, more broadly, his statistical output for 2023. It is not a level playing field for Rising when measured against the other top quarterbacks in the Pac-12 Conference this season. He isn’t as healthy, and that point has to be factored into the equation. If you see passing yardage propositions for Cam Rising’s passing yards this season, go under the total.
Pick: Cam Rising Under Passing Yards
Regular Season Win Total
Utah has the Florida and Baylor nonconference games to start the season. Even if Rising is injured in the opener against the Gators, Utah should still win at home because of its defense. The Utes will be going against a Florida offense which will miss quarterback Anthony Richardson from last season. Richardson played his best game of 2022 against the Utes and defeated them in Gainesville. Without Richardson for the return game of the two-year home-and-home series in Salt Lake City, Florida will be in deep trouble against the Utes. Utah should get through that game.
The Baylor game will be more difficult than the Florida game for Utah. If Cam Rising is able to return to the lineup for that contest on September 9, Utah probably has enough to get the job done. Rising is so experienced and poised that if the game is close in the fourth quarter, Rising can make the difference-making plays in that clash.
Examining The Schedule
Utah’s Pac-12 schedule is a beast, however. The Utes visit USC and Washington. They host Oregon. They visit Oregon State. The Utes could very easily lose three of those four games. The most natural choices are the three road trips. They can probably beat Oregon at home, but if Utah goes 0-3 on the road against other teams which are viewed as contenders for the Pac-12 championship, that removes all margin for error for the Utes. They would have to go 9-0 in their other nine games in order to finish above the 8.5 win total.
Utah did beat USC twice last season, but both games were not played in Los Angeles. This year, Utah has to play a true road game against USC. The Trojans will be highly motivated to avenge last year’s losses. That’s a really tough assignment for the Utes, and it likely shapes up as a loss. The Washington game will be fascinating, because Washington had a better overall record than Utah last year but suffered a really bad loss to Arizona State and did not make the Pac-12 Championship Game as a result.
One can make the argument that Washington has to do more work to maintain its standing relative to 2022 than Utah does. Utah’s defense will need to be at its best to beat Washington. Remember, the firepower the Huskies have with Michael Penix at quarterback and Rome Odunze at wide receiver. That game also figures to be a loss for the Utes.
The Oregon State game will be tough. It’s a Friday night game on the road against an opponent with a strong defense and an excellent offensive line. Oregon State, however, might be limited by quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei. He had an erratic and uneven career at Clemson. Now he is trying to hit the reset button this season. Utah might be able to win at Oregon State, which would go a long way toward getting over 8.5 wins. In the end, take the over due to Utah’s deserved reputation for being a top-tier Pac-12 team.