Utah Utes Vs. Arizona Wildcats Score Prediction, Game Day Storylines

Nov 17, 2023, 12:30 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – We are around 24 hours away from the No. 22 Utah Utes kicking off against the No. 17 Arizona Wildcats which means it’s time for storylines and a game prediction.

Utah will be looking to bounce back and finish strong after a tough loss to No.5 Washington last weekend. Arizona will not make it easy however as they have been a team on the rise in 2023 under freshman quarterback Noah Fifita.

With hopes of a three-peat Pac-12 Title gone, the Utes are now in a position of needing to win out in order to secure the best available record and bowl positioning for the 2023 season.

Before game day, make sure you are in the know about important storylines, and questions surrounding the game as well as a score prediction for Utah versus Arizona.

Three Storylines For Utah Football Vs. Arizona

  1. Don’t Let The Same Team Beat You Twice. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham echoed this a lot after Utah got walloped at home by Oregon a few weeks back and the Utes responded well by completely dismantling ASU the following week. However, unlike last time, Utah is on the road a second straight week, Arizona is a much better team than ASU, and this most recent loss to Washington feels like it stung more than an Oregon game that was always out of reach for the Utes. Utah has proven to be a tough, resilient team in 2023 and they will maybe need to pull out their best effort yet in Tuscon.
  2. Playing A Complete Game Start To Finish. In order to accomplish storyline number one, Utah is going to need to do a much better job of this storyline than they did a week ago against UW. Let’s be real here. Utah had the Huskies right where they wanted them heading into halftime. Coming out of halftime was a different story entirely. Utah stopped letting the game come to them and pressed hard to make plays happen (particularly on offense) resulting in no plays and ultimately no win by the time the final whistle sounded. There is no more pressure now of making a return to Las Vegas, so the Utes may as well come out swinging in their last two regular-season Pac-12 games ever. May as well put your new conference on notice you’re coming and you won’t be kind.
  3. Bryson Barnes’ Time To Shine. One of the things that has made Cam Rising so good over the years is his ability to let tough losses roll off his back and rally the troops. While Rising is still around the team, the job has now become Bryson Barnes’. As mentioned in storyline number one, Utah did a great job bouncing back against ASU a few weeks ago and that was largely thanks to Barnes putting a bad performance behind him and encouraging everyone to get to work. This latest loss rounding into the matchup with Arizona is a much tougher deal with the reasons already being mentioned. Barnes’s leadership and toughness will be really tested this week in how Utah responds to finish out the year.

Two Questions Heading Into Utah Vs. Arizona

  1. Where Is Utah’s Confidence Currently At? As already mentioned, Utah had the Huskies on the ropes last week. That game was theirs for the taking, but they didn’t ultimately succeed in doing that. The disappointment was palpable in post-game compared to the other previous losses. How have the Utes handled that this week? Have they successfully put that to bed in order to go up against another respectable opponent this weekend? This feels like a very important point simply due to where it appears Arizona’s confidence level is currently at with their budding success. It might be a tough ask, but Utah must at least match that energy on Saturday.
  2. Can Utah Make A Statement On The Road? This Saturday feels like a great opportunity for the Utes to make a final, big statement on the road. Utah has gained a lot of respect this season for their “next man up” mentality in dealing with their injuries and it has produced a lot of wins for them that in years past they may not have gotten. The Wildcats are a team everyone is hot on and for good reason. Beating them big in their house, on the road after a disappointing loss would go a long way to leaving a very positive, final impression of the Utes for the 2023 football season.

Utah Vs. Arizona Score Prediction

This is another game that I can see a few different scenarios playing out with, but one feels more likely than the others.

Utah could take their disappointment from coming up short last week out on Arizona in a sizable win. However, I personally think the Wildcats are in a place where they aren’t likely to let a game get away from them quite like that.

I think the two most likely scenarios are that Utah wins it in a close one, or Arizona wins it in a close one. I will go ahead and lean Utah because I think the defense should be able to rattle and confuse Fifita despite how great he’s been. I also think it matters that this team has been a model of resiliency all year and frankly, the Wildcats allowing a team like Colorado hang around gives me a bit of pause on them.

  • Utah 33, Arizona 26

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Utes Vs. Arizona Wildcats Score Prediction, Game Day Storylines