No. 17 Utah Football Seeks First Pac-12 Championship Over No. 10 Oregon

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Jonathan Wang

Freshman cornerback Clark Phillips III observing quarterback movements against the Oregon Ducks in Salt Lake City, Utah on Nov 20, 2021. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Writer

 

When the Utes beat Oregon in the regular season, they cemented their spot in the Pac-12 Championship. Oregon would later claim their spot in the Championship, beating Oregon State 38-29. Both Utah and Oregon are no stranger to this game, with Utah having appearances in both 2018 and 2019. Oregon has played in the Championship four times, winning all four.

The last time Utah was in the Pac-12 Championship was against Oregon in 2019. The Utes ended up losing that game 37-15 as Oregon claimed their third Pac-12 Title. Utah looks to flip the script this time around, and the odds have never been higher.

Oregon currently holds a 19-game home winning streak, demonstrating their large home-field advantage. Unfortunately for the Ducks, the Pac-12 Championship will be played on neutral ground, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, just six hours south of Salt Lake City.

Scouting the Utes

Ranking: No. 17 CFP

Record: 9-3 (8-1 Pac-12)

Last Week: W vs. Colorado, 28-13

What’s at Stake

This will be the third of the past four years that Utah has advanced to the Pac-12 Championship, and yet the Utes have yet to bring home the trophy. They are also yet to play in the Rose Bowl, joining Colorado and Arizona as the only Pac-12 teams to never advance to the Rose Bowl. Both Cameron Rising and Devin Lloyd have a chance to cement their case for Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive players of the year.

Utes to Watch

Defense

Utah’s defense has had some massive games this season, but their matchup against Oregon may be one of the best. Utah allowed Oregon just 294 total yards, with just seven points. Oregon also went 6-14 on third down conversions and was unable to score from the red zone on three chances.

Offense

Complimenting with Utah’s defense, the offense was phenomenal against Oregon, scoring 38 points and putting up 386 total yards. Utah’s run game was unstoppable, running for 208 yards on 50 rushes. Rising also had an astounding 17.8 yards per completion, crushing Oregon’s 13.6.

Scouting the Ducks

Ranking: No. 10 CFP

Record: 10-2 (7-2 Pac-12)

Last Week: W vs. Oregon State, 38-29

Special Teams

Oregon suffered on special teams against Utah, missing two field goals and allowing Britain Covey to return a punt for a 78-yard touchdown. But special teams mishaps don’t happen every game, and Utah shouldn’t be expecting to execute at the same level.

Offense

Oregon’s offense has been dominant this season, scoring at least 24 points in every game except for their matchup with Utah. Notably, they’ve exploded on several occasions, posting 52 points against Colorado and 35 against Ohio State.

Defense

Despite having the NFL’s projected No. 1 pick in Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon’s defense hasn’t been performing well this season. Six of their ten wins have been within 10 points, with four of those being home games. Oregon will seriously need their defense to step up if they are going to compete with Utah.

How to watch

The Pac-12 Championship will take place on Friday, Dec. 3 at 6 p.m. MST. It will be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the broadcast available on ABC. It will also be available via stream on the ESPN App and radio on 700 AM. Chris Fowler will provide play-by-play with Kirk Herbstreit providing analysis.

 

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@SeanOverton3