Matchup: #4 Oregon (-8) at #17 Utah (Oregon -8, 51 at JustBet)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 8th @ 7:00 pm (EST)
Location: Salt Lake City, UT (airing on ESPN)
Preview: The Oregon Ducks travel Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes in a key PAC-12 tilt.
The Ducks finally got the monkey off their back last Saturday, defeating Stanford 45–16 in what was one of their most complete games this season. Their only blemish on the season was a loss at home to Arizona, in a game that Marcus Mariota was under consistent pressure. Their offensive line at the time was ravaged with injuries, but now they’re healthy and hitting their stride. Oregon is 5th in the nation in total offense averaging 533.7 yards per game. Their offense is well-balanced rushing for 228 yards per game and averaging 305.7 yards through the air. They are led by none other than Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota, who has completed 68% of his passes for 2541 yards and 23 touchdowns. Mariota can also get it done with his legs with 410 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. Their leading rusher is Royce Freeman, who averages 5.5 yards per carry for 146 yards and 13 touchdowns. Mariota has many weapons at his disposal, including Byron Marshall (539 yds, 4 TD’s) and Devon Allen (517 yds, 4 TD’s).
The Utah Utes are coming off a heartbreaking 16–13 loss at Arizona State. The Utes aren’t your typical PAC-12 team; they play a smash mouth brand of football as their running game is the focal point of the offense, averaging 198 yards per game. Leading the way out of the backfield is the Devontae Booker, who has tallied 990 yards and eight touchdowns averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Booker is a physical runner, and can wear down opposing defenses. Quarterback Travis Wilson has missed time the season due to a neck injury but he is healthy and has 1084 yards passing this season. Their leading receiver is Dres Anderson, with only 355 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Judging by their stats, they are without a doubt a ball control run oriented offense. Their defense and special teams are outstanding. They have an athletic defensive line that can flat out get to the quarterback and are leading the nation in sacks with 39, averaging 4.98 per game. They are also 28th in the nation against the run allowing just 127.8 yards per game.
As mentioned before, Oregon had a monumental win last Saturday. Stanford was their nemesis for the past two seasons, and it had to be a truly rewarding win for Marcus Mariota. Now they travel on the road into a hostile environment against a very physical defense. Utah will try to control the clock, and I believe that they will have success running the ball as Oregon has had trouble stopping the run allowing 165 yards per game. That stat might be a bit misleading seeing how most teams are playing from behind. The key to beating Oregon is keeping their offense off the field, and I have no doubt that is the game plan head coach Kyle Whittingham will employ. If there’s been any weakness with Oregon this season it’s been there offensive line and keeping Marietta upright. I think Utah can hang around in this one, and while I do think Oregon will ultimately win this game, I can see them starting out sluggish and being a tad bit flat after such a huge win last weekend. Utah is one of the hardest places to play, with a hostile crowd I think Utah has the personnel on defense and the running game that can keep this within the number. Oregon traditionally has had difficulties with physical teams, and Utah is just that type of team. I’m grabbing the points with the home dog Utes on Saturday night.
2014 Week 10 NCAA Football Pick: Utah +8, Under
Oregon at Utah Score Prediction: Oregon 26 – Utah 21