Utah vs


at Las Vegas
Sat, Dec 23
4:30 PM Pacific
Rotation: 231
Odds: Northwestern +6.5, Total: 40.5

Game Analysis

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Lean – Utah (-6.5)  27   Northwestern  16

Northwestern somehow made it to a bowl game despite being outgained by 55 yards per game and 4.7 yards per play to 5.4 yppl. Being +10 in turnovers, including a lucky +7 in fumbles certainly helped and the Wildcats will need that luck to continue to stay within a touchdown in this game.

Northwestern’s offense is 0.8 yppl worse than average (4.7 yppl against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team) and they’ve been no better with Ben Bryant at quarterback, as he was just as bad (0.5 yards per pass play worse than average) as Sullivan was when Bryant was out with injury. Utah’s defense rates at 1.2 yppl better than average for the season but the injury to All-American DE Jonah Elliss (12 sacks in 10 games) hurt the pass defensive down the stretch, as the Utes generated just 5 total sacks in 3 games without Elliss. Utah will also be without their NFL-bound pair of safeties, Cole Bishop and Sione Vaki. That’s a lot of attrition but my algorithm still project the Utah defense to be 0.5 yppl better than average and they should be able to hold Northwestern well below their 22.3 points per game average (in regulation). I project the lowly Wildcats’ offense to manage just 272 total yards at 4.7 yppl (adjusted for playing a dome).

Utah’s offense will be without NFL bound safety/running back Sione Vaki, who joined the running back rotation late in the season and ran for 317 yards on 42 runs (7.5 ypr) while adding 203 receiving yards on just 14 targets. Taking out his numbers makes the rush attack 0.3 yards per rushing play worse and the pass attack 0.4 yards per pass play worse given the 4.4 yards per target of running backs Jackson and Glover. That works out to 2.5 points per game for a part time running back. Top WR Devaughn Vele is also not on the depth chart after opting out to prepare for the NFL draft combine. Vele averaged a modest 8.1 yards per target this season with their #1 QB Cam Rising out all season, but the other wide receivers combined for just 6.4 YPT. Losing WR Mikey Matthews to the portal doesn’t figure to be detrimental given his horrible 5.4 yards per target average. The wide receivers on the depth chart for the game combined for 6.2 YPT against FBS opponents, compared to the 6.7 YPT for all WRs, so that’s another downgrade to the Utes’ offense.

On a positive note, the best of the Utes’ quarterbacks, Bryson Barnes, will play in this game despite entering the transfer portal. Utah was average offensively this season (5.3 yppl against FBS teams that would allow 5.3 yppl) but they were 0.3 yppl better than average with Barnes at quarterback. However, with current personnel, including the absence of 2 starting offensive linemen, the Utah attack rates at 0.6 yppl worse than average.

Northwestern is an average defensive team (5.4 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl), which is worse than what Utah is used to facing and I project the Utes at 377 yards and 5.3 yppl in this game (adjusted for playing in a dome).

Utah is significantly worse without 3 of their 4 best defensive players and their most dangerous offensive weapon but the math still favors the Utes by 9.4 points in this game (with a total of 43.1 points). Northwestern applies to a 14-51 ATS bowl situation that plays against teams that played better than expected in their previous 3 games and I’ll lean with Utah at -7 or less despite the attrition.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Utah
  • Northwestern


  • Run Plays 39.1 23.5
  • Run Yards 199.8 111.2
  • YPRP 5.1 4.7


  • Pass Comp 15.2 19.2
  • Pass Att 26.6 32.6
  • Comp % 57.0% 58.9%
  • Pass Yards 171.8 237.6
  • Sacks 1.6 2.9
  • Sack Yards 12.0 22.3
  • Sack % 5.8% 8.2%
  • Pass Plays 28.3 35.5
  • Net Pass Yards 159.8 215.4
  • YPPP 5.7 6.1


  • Total Plays 67.4 59.0
  • Total Yards 359.6 326.6
  • YPPL 5.3 5.5


  • Int 0.8 0.6
  • Int % 3.1% 2.0%
  • Fumbles 0.1 0.6
  • Turnovers 0.9 1.2
  • Points 24.5 19.8
Share This