NCAAF · Fri (12/16) @ 11:35am ET
|Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT|
Our Pick: OREG Oregon at 10.5 (-108). Total BetMGM special: Risk Free First Bet up to $1,000 + $50 When You Register
Oregon Ducks (9-1 SU, 4-6 ATS)
The Ducks sprang onto the national radar with a big win over Ohio State in Week Two. Since then, Oregon has lost several key players to season-ending injuries but has continued to find a path to victory, except for the Stanford game, of course.
Oregon has had a couple of blowout wins this season, but most of their games have been relatively close. The running game has powered the offense for most of the season. Despite losing CJ Verdell early in the year, the Ducks rushing attack has averaged 227 yards a game, second-best in the conference.
Travis Dye has paced the run game since Verdell went down against Stanford with some help from Anthony Brown and Byron Cardwell. But when called upon, Brown has been able to lead the way with the passing game. When Dye struggled to get on track against UCLA, he threw for 296 yards. Against Colorado, he had a 300+ yard day.
On the defensive side of the ball, they are not the strongest team in the conference (sixth in total defense). While they have the No. 1 run defense in the Pac-12, their pass defense is the second-worst. But they do have the third-best pass rush and lead the Pac-12 in tackles for a loss.
Utah Utes (7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS)
After a 1-2 start to the season, the Utes seemed to take off after making Cameron Rising the starting quarterback. He nearly pulled out a win over San Diego State after replacing Charlie Brewer. But since becoming the starter against Washington State the following week, he has led the Utes to wins in six of seven games.
Like Oregon, the run game is the driving force behind Utah’s offense. With 214.5 yards a game, they have the third-best rushing game in the Pac-12. But like Brown for Oregon, Rising has been able to step for the Utes when needed. He had a 300+ yard day in a win over USC and came through for the offense last weekend with 294 and a pair of touchdowns against Arizona.
Rising’s offensive line is a big help; they have given up the fewest sacks in the Pac-12 this season.
But where Utah may be in trouble is on the defensive side of the ball. In all three losses, the defense was gashed for 200+ yards on the ground. BYU rolled up 231 yards, San Diego State had 204, and Oregon State had 260. Their other seven opponents averaged 99.6 yards a game; only three had 100+ (Arizona State, UCLA, and Arizona).
Against Oregon’s run game, that could mean trouble.
These are the top two scoring teams in the conference, so we can expect to see some points on the board. If Utah can exploit Oregon’s weak pass defense and get out to an early lead, they may be able to force Oregon to throw more and abandon the run; advantage– Utah.
But it is also not hard to see Travis Dye and Brown have big days in the run game against Utah’s defense. You might say the same about Tavion Thomas against the Ducks defense. But while Oregon has given up 100+ yards in seven games, they have only allowed 200+ once (Arizona, 202); advantage— Oregon.