Pac-12 Preview: Utah at Oregon

Cam Rising and the Utes destroyed Oregon in a pair of meetings last year by a combined score of 76-17.

No. 10 Utah Utes at No. 12 Oregon Ducks

Line: Utah -2

Total: 61

Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon

When: Saturday, 11/19 at 10:30 p.m. ET


Utah and Oregon were both expecting Saturday night’s matchup to have College Football Playoff implications heading into the season, but both teams have been all but eliminated from the title race.

The Utes and Ducks are now vying for a spot in the Pac-12 title game. DraftKings Sportsbook has both teams priced at +210 to win the conference behind USC, which is the +190 ‘chalk.’

Utah lost its second game of the season in early October, effectively eliminating them from the CFP discussion. Oregon’s second loss did not come until last week, when the Ducks were upset by Washington as 12-point favorites.

Oddsmakers opened them as 3-point home favorites for this matchup, but the early betting action (and Oregon QB Bo Nix’s status) has shifted the line to Utah -2. The total has also seen some movement, dipping from the opener of 62 to 60, as of Thursday afternoon.

Nix was injured in the fourth quarter vs. the Huskies and missed one possession before returning. His status for Saturday vs. Utah is very much in doubt.

Utah has been favored in every game this season, including its opening loss to Florida (+2.5) and its setback at UCLA (+3). The Utes have bounced back from the loss to the Bruins with a four-game winning streak, blowing out Stanford in a 42-7 final as 24-point home favorites last week.

They outscored the Cardinal 42-0 over the final three quarters after trailing 7-0 at the end of the first quarter. Junior running back Tavion Thomas led Utah with 22 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns after getting held under 100 rushing yards in every game other the season opener.

Junior quarterback Cameron Rising added to his season totals with three touchdown passes against Stanford, marking the fourth time this season that he has thrown for at least three scores. Rising has completed 66.3% of his passes for 2,225 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He has also rushed for 336 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards per attempt.

Utah blew out Oregon in a 38-7 final last November to put an end to the Ducks’ CFP hopes, and they added another win over them in the Pac-12 title game to earn a bid to the Rose Bowl. That 48-45 loss to Ohio State was the last time Utah has been an underdog (+4).

“We’ve been in the hunt for a lot of years deep into the season,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “It speaks to the talent and just the competitiveness of our players. You go back and why do we have those type of players? Because our assistant coaches do such a great job of bringing in the right type of player into this program.”

Oregon had rattled off eight straight wins following its season-opening loss to Georgia, but the Ducks were unable to overcome their poor defensive showing last week. They allowed 522 yards of total offense, including 408 passing yards to Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

The Ducks had covered the spread in seven of their eight games during their winning streak, making the loss as 12-point favorites even more surprising. Their rushing attack put up big numbers though, combining for 312 yards and two touchdowns on 51 carries. Nix, the transfer QB from Auburn who has enjoyed a spectacular season, had 59 of those yards along with 280 passing yards and two touchdowns.

“What’s the hard truth? We’re not playing well on defense right now,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said. “I don’t think it takes a lot of people to look at that and see it.”

Oregon had rattled off 23 consecutive wins at home prior to last week’s loss, which was the third-longest streak in the country. Utah has only covered the spread once in its last five road games, but it is 8-4 ATS in its last 12 games overall. These teams have gone ‘over’ in seven of their last 10 head-to-head meetings.

The pick: Utah -2

The wrong team was favored when this line originally came out, but the betting market has made an adjustment. Utah simply has more ways to win than an Oregon team that is struggling defensively. The Utes have one of the best defenses in the country, and they are also capable of winning a shootout. Oregon needs Nix to have a big day if it is going to win this game, so I feel much better about Utah’s chances. The Ducks are also having to deal with the emotional letdown after having their CFP hopes dashed last week, and they are facing a team that beat them twice last season. Utah is rolling coming into this tilt, having won 12 of its last 13 conference games.

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