Pac-12 Championship Game: Oregon vs. Utah

Anthony Brown and the Ducks were shut down in the Utes' 38-7 home win last month.

Oregon Ducks vs. Utah Utes

Line: Utah -2.5

Total: 58

Where: Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas

When: Friday, 12/3 at 8:00 p.m. ET

TV: ABC

No. 10 Oregon will have revenge on its mind when it faces No. 17 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday night.

The Ducks had their title hopes crushed in a 38-7 loss against the Utes two weeks ago. Utah has a chance to reach its first Rose Bowl in school history with a win in this game.

Oddsmakers opened Utah as a three-point favorite but as of Friday morning, most spots had adjusted to -2.5. The Utes were 3.5-point home favorites two weeks ago, but their performance in that game has played a role in this line adjustment for a neutral-site game. Friday night’s total opened at 60.5 and has been bet down to 58 — and even 57.5 at a few shops.

The early movement on the ‘under’ has been a bit surprising, as Oregon has gone ‘over’ in four of its last six games and Utah has gone ‘over’ in six of its last eight games. They did play ‘under’ the total of 58.5 two weeks ago, though, as the Ducks were stymied throughout the night.

Oregon bounced back from the lackluster performance with a win over Oregon State last week. Quarterback Anthony Brown Jr. completed 23 of 28 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns, adding 83 rushing yards and an additional TD on the ground. Brown has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,536 yards and 15 touchdowns—he has only thrown four interceptions.

The Ducks lost their top three receivers earlier this season due to two injuries and a transfer. Wide receiver Devon Williams has started to pick up some of the slack, catching six passes for 110 yards and a touchdown last week. Kris Hutson added a career-best seven receptions for 82 yards, scoring his first touchdown in the process. Williams and Hutson combined for 177 receiving yards against Utah in the regular-season meeting.

Oregon’s offense is sitting at No. 39 nationally, averaging 434.4 yards per game. Running back Travis Dye has rushed for 1,036 yards and 14 touchdowns on 178 carries, picking up 5.8 yards per attempt. He is going to face a Utah defense that is No. 16, allowing 323.2 yards per game.

The Utes got off to a 1-2 start this season, but they recovered by winning eight of their final nine games. They have allowed 13 points or less in three of their last four games, including a 28-13 win over Colorado last Friday.

Quarterback Cameron Rising has been a game manager, completing 62.8 percent of his passes for 2,109 yards and 17 touchdowns. His top targets have been tight end Dalton Kincaid, wide receiver Britain Covey and tight end Brant Kuithe, who have all surpassed 400 receiving yards.

The Utes rely primarily on their rushing attack, which is led by running back Tavion Thomas. He has rushed for 978 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. TJ Pledger has added 92 carries for 651 yards and five scores, racking up 7.1 yards per attempt. They will be facing an Oregon defense that is No. 62, allowing 372.8 yards per game.

Oregon is 5-2 against the spread in its last seven games as an underdog, while Utah is 16-7 ATS in its last 23 Pac-12 games. The Utes are 4-1 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning record.

The pick: Utah -2.5

Utah has been on a mission all season, which has been motivated by losing a pair of former teammates to tragic shootings. This is not a bowl game, but it feels like the handicap should be following a similar line of thinking. Oregon had hopes of making the College Football Playoff. Instead, the Ducks are left playing for a spot in another Rose Bowl. Utah has never made a Rose Bowl appearance and has been peaking down the stretch of the regular season. Its defense is playing its best football of the season and should be fully motivated for another game against Oregon. The Utes probably won’t blow out Oregon like they did two weeks ago, but I do expect them to win and cover on Friday night.  

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