Home | News | Utah vs. Northwestern 2023 Las Vegas Bowl Odds, Preview & Pick

Utah vs. Northwestern 2023 Las Vegas Bowl Odds, Preview & Pick

By Hank Blaine

The second-to-last bowl game among the seven played this Saturday features Utah playing its final game as a member of the Pac-12 as it faces Northwestern of the Big Ten in the Las Vegas Bowl. The next time the Utes take the field next summer, they will be in the Big 12.

Utah Utes vs. Northwestern Wildcats 2023 Las Vegas Bowl Game Information

  • When: Saturday, December 23rd, 2023, 7:30 PM ET
  • Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
  • TV: ABC, ESPN+
  • Radio: WMLB AM 1690 (Utah) // KZNS 1280 AM (Northwestern)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • College Football Odds: Utah (-7) // Northwestern (+7)

Why Bet on the Utah Utes?

The Utes will make their record-tying sixth appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl (4-1 record) while the Wildcats will make their first appearance. The two programs have met just three times with Northwestern holding a 2-1 advantage.

It has been a disappointing season for the Utes at 8-4 considering they won the Pac-12 title game each of the previous two seasons. It didn’t help that projected starting QB Cam Rising didn’t play all season after suffering a serious injury in last season’s Rose Bowl. Rising will return in 2024, which has forced this year’s primary QB, Bryson Barnes, to enter the transfer portal – yet he plans to play in the bowl game. Thank goodness for Utah as backup Nate Johnson, and freshman Mack Howard also entered the portal and won’t play.

Coach Kyle Whittingham said Barnes came to him with the suggestion to play, and the coaches quickly agreed, considering their only other option was gritty-but-limited Luke Bottari, who started the regular-season finale vs. Colorado when Barnes was out injured.

Utah has one of the nation’s top defenders in All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 defensive end Jonah Elliss. He was a finalist for Polynesian College Football Player of the Year, the Lombardi Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy and Ted Hendricks Award. Elliss leads the Power Five in sacks per game (1.20) and totaled 12.0 sacks on the season. He also ranks fourth in the country in tackles for loss per game (1.6) with 16.0 total TFL, racking up 37 total tackles and three pass breakups in 10 games in 2023.

Utah also has a stellar safety in Sione Vaki. A finalist for both Polynesian College Football Player of the Year and the Paul Hornung Award, Vaki contributed 51 total tackles (8.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks) while also seeing time on offense in seven games. He earned 42 carries for 317 yards (2 TD), along with 11 receptions for 203 yards (3 TD), appearing three times on the Paul Hornung Award weekly honor roll. However, Vaki will not play in the bowl.

The Utes rank eighth in the FBS in third down defense (28.9%), fifth in first downs defense (181), fourth in rushing defense (84.2) and 17th in total defense (308.6). Utah has held seven of its opponents to under 20 points this season, ranking 21st in the FBS in scoring defense (19.8).

Offensively, Utah has had 15 scoring drives that were for 70+ yards, including five in the 80-89-yard range and two in the 90-99-yard span. Utah is averaging 173.8 passing yards per game this season, but has averaged 197.6 in the last six games, scoring 11 of its 15 passing touchdowns in that span. The Utes have also averaged 199.8 rushing yards in the last six games with seven touchdowns. Since Oct. 14, Utah has been averaging 397.5 yards of total offense per game (six games) with the Utes putting up 359.8 through 12 total games.

Utah is 17-8 all-time in bowl games with Whittingham holding an 11-5 record (.688). His 11 wins are tied for third among active FBS coaches and in the top-10 all-time.

Why Bet on the Northwestern Wildcats?

Northwestern was expected to be terrible this year after firing Coach Pat Fitzgerald in a shocker this summer due to off-field issues. Yet the Cats are 7-5 and interim coach David Braun already has earned the full-time job in being named Big Ten Coach of the Year. He is a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year honors and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. Braun came to Evanston in January 2023 as the defensive coordinator after working in the same role at Division I FCS powerhouse North Dakota State for four seasons and leading the Bison to two FCS National Championships.

Linebackers Bryce Gallagher and Xander Mueller both received All-Big Ten recognition. Gallagher finished as the Wildcats leading tackler for a second-straight season with 110 total tackles (43 solo), the third-highest mark in the Big Ten. He is the first Wildcat to finish with 100+ tackles in back-to-back seasons since Paddy Fisher did so in 2017-18. His 210 tackles over the last two seasons rank second-most among any Big Ten player behind Cal Haladay (Michigan State).

Mueller led the Wildcats defense with 10.5 total tackles for loss (seventh in the Big Ten) along with 52 solo tackles. He also ranked second on the team with 102 total tackles and 5.0 sacks, making him one of just nine players in the country to finish the regular season with 100+ tackles and at least 5.0 sacks.

Northwestern’s six-win improvement from 2022 to 2023 is the largest win improvement by any FBS team this season. Since 2000, the Wildcats are one of just five teams to win six or more games the year after finishing 1-11. NU makes its first bowl appearance since defeating Auburn, 35-19, in the 2021 Citrus Bowl. Northwestern enters the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl on a four-game bowl winning streak (2016 Pinstripe Bowl, 2017 Music City Bowl, 2018 Holiday Bowl, 2021 Citrus Bowl), the second-longest bowl winning streak in the Big Ten behind Minnesota and tied for the fourth-longest in the nation. This will be the Wildcats’ first-ever trip to Nevada for a bowl game.

Utah vs. Northwestern Betting Trends

  • Utah is 14-6 SU in the last 20 games.
  • Utes are 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games against an opponent in the Big Ten conference.
  • The total went over in 5 of Utah’s last 7 games.
  • Northwestern is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games.
  • Wildcats are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games.
  • The total went under in 5 of Northwestern’s last 7 games.

Utah vs. Northwestern 2023 Las Vegas Bowl Expert Betting Predictions

Northwestern takes the win on Saturday night.

Where to Bet On College Football with Bitcoin

College Football odds are available all year round here at Nitrobetting. Create a Nitrobetting account now to win tons of Bitcoin from the 2023-24 College Football season with our up-to-date NCAAF futures odds.

Check out our latest Bitcoin betting guides for the College Football season. Stay tuned for more football previews and articles, and don’t forget to check out the latest College Football betting odds at our Bitcoin sportsbook.

READ MORE: Georgia Tech vs. UCF Florida 2023 Gasparilla Bowl Odds, Preview & Pick