Pac-12 Championship: Utah vs. Oregon fearless prediction and game preview.
Pac-12 Championship: Utah vs. Oregon Broadcast
Date: Friday, December 6
Game Time: 8:00 ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (click to watch for free)
Venue: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Utah (11-1) vs. Oregon (10-2) Game Preview
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Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Pac-12 Championship: Utah vs. Oregon
– It’s the first piece in the weekend’s College Football Playoff puzzle. It’s this simple. If Oregon wins, it’s going to the Rose Bowl and Utah might be bounced out of the New Year’s Six bowl picture altogether – the Cotton Bowl would be on the table, though. If Utah wins, then it’s all about 1) who wins the Big 12 Championship, and by how much, and 2) if LSU beats Georgia. At worst, Utah is going to the Rose Bowl with a win.
– It’s okay to admit that you haven’t seen Utah play all that often, if at all. Oregon has been featured in several national spotlight games, while Utah has mostly been toiling in anonymous brilliance. However, that’s partly because …
– Utah doesn’t have a really good win, and this is its chance to make a massive national statement. The one game everyone did see was the weeknight loss to USC, and without a win over a College Football Playoff top 25 team, the national respect isn’t there. But the team is just that good, and now it has to show it against the No. 13 team to have any chance of getting into the four-team tournament. Or, on the flip side, this is the moment when Oregon football takes things to a whole other level in the rebuild under Mario Cristobal.
CFN Podcast: Pac-12 Championship Discussion
Why Utah Will Win
– This defensive front is absolutely no joke. The Utes lead the nation in run defense, have enough of a pass rush to get by, and overall, this group can tackle. Bradlee Anae is the pass rushing star on the outside, but everything works around the killer 330-pound tackles starting with Leki Fotu and John Penisini. Arizona State is the only team to run or more than 100 yards on the Utes.
– Tyler Huntley is as efficient as any passer in college football. He’s a good runner, but this year he took his game to a whole other level though the air, averaging over 11 yards per pass with 16 touchdowns and just two picks. Best of all, he’s playing his best football of the season over the last month, completing over 82% of his throws in the last two games.
– All of a sudden, Oregon’s offense has been … meh. The team is loaded with next-level talent that can explode at anytime, but it didn’t show up against Arizona State until it was too late, it went through the motions in a win over Oregon State, and now it has to go against a Ute defense that’s allowed 15 points or fewer in seven of the last eight games.
Why Oregon Will Win
Utah … America would like to introduce you to an opponent with a whole lot of talent. It’s not like Washington is without skill, but this has been a relatively down year for the Ducks – that’s the one team that pushed Utah lately in a 33-28 UW loss. Utah certainly passes the eye-test, but that’s partly because its last three games came against teams that aren’t going bowling. According to the NCAA measure, Utah is 92nd in strength of schedule.
Justin Herbert, it’s time to show up, son. The star quarterback has been a whole lot better than he gets credit for. He had a rough for three quarters against Arizona State – he finished with over 300 yards and two scores – and his team lost to Auburn in the opener. That’s what everyone saw. On the year, he’s been poised, careful with the ball, and great at operating within what Oregon needs to do, hitting 68% of his passes with 31 touchdowns and and just five picks, two of those coming against ASU.
Talent-wise, Oregon is better. It has more NFL skill on both sides, it has the most complete lines Utah has dealt with all season long, and it’s got the speed and ability turn its game up a few notches now that it’s playing for a championship. Not that this is ever any real indication – especially considering Utah stuffed ASU 21-3 – but Oregon was able to do what Utah, as a program, hasn’t and beat USC in LA … and badly. When this team flips the switch, look out.
What’s Going To Happen
Utah is going to look the part, but it might not be quite enough.
Oregon is really that good, too. Washington was the one team on the Utah slate with the guys up front who can handle the pounding, and it has the skill guys to get into a tempo to take the Ute D out of its game.
But unlike last year, Utah has a healthy Tyler Huntley and Zack Moss in the backfield. The defense will own third downs, the offense will just effective enough to capitalize on its chances, and nine years after taking the step up into the Power Five world of the Pac-12, Utah will be a conference champion.
But it won’t be quite impressive enough to end the College Football Playoff debate before Saturday gets going.
Utah vs. Oregon Prediction, Line
Must See Rating: 5
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Pac-12 Championship History
2018 Washington 10, Utah 3
2017 USC 31, Stanford 28
2016 Washington 41, Colorado 10
2015 Stanford 41, USC 22
2014 Oregon 51, Arizona 13
2013 Stanford 38, Arizona State 14
2012 Stanford 27, UCLA 24
2011 Oregon 49, UCLA 31