In an ever-changing Pac-12, the University of Utah Utes will look to rebound off a heartbreaking loss as they play against the Oregon Ducks.
The Utes return home after an uncharacteristically sloppy loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils, where all three facets of the Utah team were stifled by an arguably worse opponent. That same mettle will be tested against the Ducks today.
The Ducks come into the game off of a 42-21 win against UCLA last week. The Ducks capitalized off of three Bruin turnovers, and controlled the pace of play throughout, dominating both on the ground and in the air.
The Ducks’ run game was the shining point of their win last week, but they have a lot to live up to against the Utes, as Utah’s run defense still sits at first in the country.
Where Utah will probably put most of their offensive work is also on the ground. In the loss to ASU, Zack Moss hit the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year, becoming only the fourth player in program history to do so. The game would prove to be Moss’ last this year, as a surgery ended his season just this week. The Utes are looking to fill the void left by Tyler Huntey, who is done for the season after breaking his left collarbone last week. Jason Shelley, a redshirt freshman, will start for the Utes, with walk-on Drew Lisk filling in at backup.
This game also has heavy implications for both teams in the standings. Utah still sits atop the Pac-12 South, with tiebreakers against the two teams they’re tied with, USC and Arizona. They do not, however, hold the tiebreaker with ASU, and with a relatively winnable schedule, the Utes and Sun Devils could be in a dogfight for the Pac-12 South as the season comes to a close.
On Oregon’s side of things, the Ducks currently sit fourth in the Pac-12 North, behind Stanford, Washington and Washington State. The Ducks, after shocking then-ranked No. 7 Washington, have mellowed out, dropping a huge loss to Arizona before returning the favor against UCLA. While the Ducks have dropped from their No. 11 ranking, they are still a dangerous team, and after dropping a game as ugly as that against ASU, the Utes will hopefully view each game the same way — backs against the wall, and a championship at stake.
Kickoff for the game is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Rice Eccles Stadium. The Utes will have a pre-game flyover from the U.S. Air Force and will continue to honor Lauren McCluskey with both a moment of silence and stickers on the player’s helmets.