The Beehive State will be buzzing with college football in the next few days with three bowl games involving Utah schools. On Saturday, Utah State will face UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl, while No. 22 Utah meets Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl. In Monday’s inaugural Miami Beach Bowl, BYU will face off with Memphis.
Utah State (9-4, 6-2 MW) are heavy favorites against UTEP (7-5, 5-3 C-USA) at University Stadium in Albuquerque. Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Aggies favored by 10 points over the Miners, who won just two road games this season. Utah State proved to be a solid team with a win over then-No. 18 BYU at Provo in October, but Matt Wells’s squad suffered a setback in their final game of the season, as the then-No. 23 Boise State Broncos trampled the Aggies, 50-19.
The Aggies are led by Hunter Sharp, a junior wide receiver who has 63 receptions for 918 yards and seven touchdowns. The Miners counter with running back Aaron Jones, who has rushed for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns. UTEP rushed for 2,552 yards this season (No. 35 in the nation).
In Sin City, Utah (8-4, 5-4 Pac-12) will face a tough Colorado State (10-2, 6-2) team, with the Utes favored by just three points. The Utes have effectively bounced back from consecutive sub .500 seasons, and earned big wins over then-No. 8 UCLA and then-No. 20 USC. But they will face a Rams squad that lost to only Boise State and Air Force, and by a combined total of six points.
Colorado State is one of the best passing teams in the nation, averaging 326.3 yards per game (No. 8 in the nation), with Garret Grayson leading the attack. The senior quarterback threw 32 touchdown passes and just six interceptions this season. Utah boasts a defense that held USC, Arizona, and Stanford to 21 points or less. The Rams will look to contain running back Devontae Booker, who has rushed for 1,350 yards and nine touchdowns for Kyle Wittingham’s squad.
The Memphis (9-3) matchup with BYU (8-4) at Marlins Park promises to be a competitive contest with the Tigers only a two-point favorite. Memphis lost both games they played against ranked opponents this season when they fell to UCLA in Pasadena, and couldn’t keep up with Ole Miss in Oxford. However, since their loss to Houston on Oct. 11, the Tigers have been on a roll, winning six straight games and by a margin of 22.3 points.
The Cougars have been streaky this year, starting the season with a 4-0 record before dropping four in a row, and then bouncing back with four straight wins. Quarterback Taysom Hill was expected to be a Heisman Trophy candidate before he broke his leg in a home loss to Utah State. Hill is expected to be back in action next season, but for now head coach Bronco Mendenhall will rely on senior Christian Stewart, who has filled in more than admirably with four games of more than 300 passing yards.
Utah State vs.UTEP (New Mexico Bowl)
Start: Saturday, 2:20 PM ET
Odds: Utah State -9.5
Prediction: Utah State over UTEP, 34-10
Utah vs. Colorado State (Las Vegas Bowl)
Start: Saturday, 3:30 P.M. ET
Odds: Utah -3
Prediction: Utah over Colorado State, 30-24
BYU vs. Memphis (Miami Beach Bowl)
Start: Monday, 2:00 P.M. ET
Odds: Memphis -2
Prediction: BYU over Memphis, 20-13