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Viva Las Vegas Bowl: Utah takes on Northwestern

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Utah and Northwestern head to Sin City for a matchup at this year’s Las Vegas Bowl.  This is a Pac 12 vs Big 10 match-up with the Pac-12 team holding the advantage.  Vegas has the Utes listed as a 6.5-point favorite and has set the over-under at 42.


Broadcast information:

Kickoff: Saturday, Dec. 23rd, 2023, 7:30 p.m. EST

Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas

Television: ABC, Sean McDonough, Greg McElroy, Stormy Buonantony

Radio: Utah ESPN 700 & 92.1FM/Northwestern WGN 720


What's at stake?

Utah heads to Las Vegas after going 8-4 (5-4 Conf) in the 2023 season. After a strong start going 6-1, the Utes finished the season 2-3.  Head coach Kyle Whittingham will be looking forward to leaving the Pac-12 on a high note and building momentum as the Utes head to the Big 12 in 2024. 

This will be the 6th time Utah will be playing in the Las Vegas Bowl and holds a record of 4-1.  Utah will be looking to stop their current bowl game losing streak after dropping their last 4 bowl games.  Utah's last bowl appearance was January 1, 2023, in the Rose Bowl where they lost 35-21 to Penn State.

The fact Northwestern is playing in Las Vegas is fitting considering they are playing with house money after beating all the odds against them and getting to a bowl game this year.    The Wildcats came into the 2023 season with an over/under win total of 3.5 after going 1-11 in 2022. Winning or losing this game will make no difference for Northwestern, just the fact they made a bowl game guaranteed their season a success. The fact that Northwestern is playing in a bowl game is a statement of the job head coach David Braun has done in 2023. 

Opting out players (when written)/Key players

Out for Utah: QB Nate Johnson, S Cole Bishop, CB JaTravis Broughton, S/RB Sione Vaki, WR      DeVaughn Vele

Out for Wildcats: DB Nigel William, QB Cole Freeman(Backup), DT Matt Lawson, OG Josh Priebe

Key Players Utah: QB Bryson Barnes(in the portal but will play), S Nate Ritchie, S Johnathan Hill.

Key Players Wildcats: QB Ben Bryant, RB Cam Porter, LB Bryce Gallagher, WR Cam Johnson






Points Per Game



Passing YDS Per Game



Passing TD's



Rushing YDS Per Game



Rushing TD's



Yards Per Game


Key match-ups

Northwestern Passing attack vs Utah safeties.

Utah is coming into the games with both stating safeties not playing in the game.  Team captain Cole Bishop and two-way (S/RB) player Sione Vaki have both declared for the NFL draft and will not play.  Northwestern QB Bryson Barnes will look to exploit the less experienced safeties downfield.  If the Wildcats’ offensive line can give Barnes the time he needs, Northwestern should be able to make a few big plays.

Utah Rushing Game vs Northwestern Run Defense

Utah will look to run the ball in this game, against a Northwestern defense that at times had trouble stopping the run.  The Wildcats ranked 14th in the Big 10 in rushing defense. The Utes ranked 27 (FBS) in rushing yards per game averaging 186.2, while Northwestern comes in ranked 83(FBS) on defense allowing teams 159.5 yards a game.  The Utes averaged 4.4 yards per carry and Northwestern allowed their opponents 4.2 yards per carry.   According to some reports Utah star receiver DeVaughn Vele will not play so look for Northwestern to bring extra bodies up to help stop the run.


Even with the amount of talent that has opted out of Utah's offense heading into Vegas, they will still be able to find a way to score.  This was an unbelievable year for the Cats but unfortunately, it won’t end the way their fans were hoping.

Final Score: Utah 24 - Northwestern 17





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