Oregon beats Utah – three reasons why

The team that won in Columbus is an outsider in Salt Lake City.

The reigning double conference champions are expected to lose to the non-reigning conference champions.

The team that consistently elevates its game to the required heights should fail in the biggest game of the Pac-12 season.

Look what we have here: The Ducks are a three-point dog on Saturday afternoon in Utah.

The line makes two bursts of meaning. The Utes always play well in the thin air and relentless din of Rice-Eccles Stadium. In addition, they are 6-1 since handing over to quarterback Cam Rising the keys to the offense.

We believe those advantages will hold up as well as a running back trying to block Kayvon Thibodeaux.

The cover of the Ducks.

The Ducks win.

And here’s why:

1. Oregon has a lot of performing experience.

The Ducks won’t be pissed off by a few mistakes or a major change in momentum to the home team.

Quarterback Anthony Brown isn’t always fluid, but he has a tendency to rise up (see: Ohio, Columbus; Sep 11, 2021) and can play with his legs when the pocket breaks. (Don’t worry, the pocket will breakdown.)

After Ohio State scored early in the fourth quarter for a touchdown, Brown responded with a 74-yard drive to regain control.

After UCLA took a 14-point first-half lead, Brown responded with back-to-back touchdowns.

After Washington converted a touchdown and a safety to claim an early advantage, Brown took 76 yards from the Ducks for the go-ahead score.

Games of this magnitude are all about keeping your balance, reacting to setbacks and making big plays on the third down and in the red zone.

We expect Brown to meet challenges on all fronts.

2. Utah’s defense is shaky.

As fierce as it looked against Arizona State and UCLA, the unit fought the race on several occasions.

BYU took off 231 meters on the ground.

The state of Oregon has accumulated 260.

The Ducks are 10th nationally in ground running, averaging a yard less per game than Oregon State.

The one thing they love more than running the ball is running the ball when everyone in the stadium knows they are going to run the ball.

We expect them to exceed 200 yards on Saturday.

3. Utah’s special teams are deeply flawed.

In one of the most surprising developments of the Pac-12 season, Utah’s typically rugged special teams imploded.

Not once or twice, but apparently on a weekly basis.

The Utes missed five field goals, allowed four return touchdowns and blocked three punts.

In a game of this magnitude, with an opponent as savvy and talented as the Ducks, a special teams mistake could be costly.

The Utes might have more than one.

Pickaxes …

Last week: 3-1-1
Season: 33-31-2
Five-star special: 5-7

All Choices Against Spread
Lines taken from vegasinsider.com
Hourly Pacific

Arizona (+14.5) in Washington State (Friday)
To start up: 6 p.m. on the Pac-12 networks
Comment: This should probably be the points spread for the first half. Despite all the progress over the past month, this is a tough task for the Wildcats: a long, short week trip to play 40 degrees and rain down against a quality opponent with disruptive defense and offense. balanced. Choice: Washington State

Washington (-6.5) at Colorado
To start up: 12 noon on the Pac-12 networks
Comment: I can’t help but think about the last time UW went to Boulder and the lethargic performance that followed. (A week later, Chris Petersen resigned.) Is there much reason to believe the Huskies will produce a better performance? Meanwhile, the Buffaloes have shown life on offense and will play energetically in the final home game for their seniors. Choice: Colorado

UCLA (-3) to USC
To start up: 1 p.m. on FOX
Comment: Looks like USC was not in the field for a month (reality: two weeks). The Trojans will start off promising first-year quarterback Jaxson Dart, whose mobility gives the erratic and sans Drake London offense an added dimension. UCLA’s plan is no secret: owning the line of scrimmage and running the ball until USC’s 99th-ranked defense proves it can stop Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown. Picks: UCLA

Cal (-1) at Stanford
To start up: 4 p.m. on the Pac-12 networks
Comment: The line opened with Cal as a 4-point favorite and fell, presumably because Stanford announced quarterback Tanner McKee was healthy enough to start. He’ll take on Chase Garbers and what should be a nearly intact Cal roster, with just a few players retained due to the Bears’ COVID outbreak. Without the disruption, we would have relied heavily on the Bears. Not anymore. The dynamics have changed. Pick: Stanford

Oregon (+3) to Utah
To start up: 4:30 p.m. on ABC
Comment: One topic we didn’t touch on above: Utah’s powerful running game will face arguably the conference’s top middle linebacker (Noah Sewell), an active defensive front and an athletic secondary. In other words: we expect the Utes to have modest success on the pitch, especially on the first down. This will shift the responsibility to Rising, who will come under great pressure. The Utes need big games from their tight ends, but Oregon has the staff for containment. Choice: Oregon

State of Arizona (-3) to State of Oregon
To start up: 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
Comment: The Sun Devils return to the Pacific Northwest a week after their comeback victory in Seattle. They face a more complete opponent this week – one who will test their defense in a way Washington couldn’t. But we saw a version of that game 11 months ago, and ASU’s playmakers battled OSU by 46 points and some 500 yards. Not sure the Beavers are better equipped this time around. Choice: Arizona State

Five Star Special: Oregon. Ducks and points are a combination we refuse to turn down, at least until there is evidence that we should.

Direct winners: Washington State, Colorado, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State


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