football Edit

Statistically Speaking: Utah vs. ASU

'Game of the year' is a phrase tossed around too much—after all, there can only be one. For a game to live up to that hype the teams have to be talented, evenly matched, and contending for a conference title... and then both teams have to show up and play their best football for four quarters. That's a lot to ask of a wild, unpredictable sport like college football.

The Sun Devil's visit to Rice Eccles has the makings of the game of the year- for the Pac-12 South anyway. The teams have talent and are well matched, with various advanced stats giving one team or the other the edge, Vegas going pick 'em, and a strong lead in the division up for grabs. Now the question is, will they live up to it?

To make my game prediction charts, I run 10,000 simulations of the game. This week, in 2,796 simulations, the final score was within a field goal. The teams won by a wide margin (more than 18 points) just 6.8% of the time. Everything is set up for an absolute barn burner of a football game.

Utah has a tiny edge here, but we're well within the margin of error. This game will likely come down to who makes the last mistake. Utah's home crowd for this game will likely be the loudest and wildest of the season as we come together in mourning for Aaron Lowe and in renewed optimism about what this team is capable of, fresh off a shellacking of the Trojans in Los Angeles.

Both of these teams are among the best in the nation at creating backfield havoc, and limiting those drive-killing plays will likely be the key to this football game. On Saturday night, I predict that it's Arizona State who will make the last big mistake.

Utah 35, ASU 31