Utah hosts Oregon as a home underdog for the first time since the 2018 season. Despite both squads being 6-1, Oregon could be overvalued in this matchup.
The greater Pac-12 picture
The Ducks are eighth in the AP Poll, ahead of No. 11 Oregon State and No. 13 Utah. However, if we are going off just wins, then one could argue that Oregon does not have any that would qualify as "great." Oregon defeated 4-3 Colorado and 4-3 Washington State. The Ducks' loss was to No. 5 Washington by three points on the road. Oregon is being credited for a close loss. Close losses should not be resume builders. Oregon allowed Washington's Michael Penix Jr. to put together a touchdown drive with 33 seconds left in just two plays.
Oregon indeed passes the eye test as one of the more complete teams, but until a great win is in the books, the argument could be made that the Ducks are not the second-best team in the Pac-12.
Breaking down the matchups
Since the 2019 season, Utah has just one home loss, tied for the best home record during that span with Georgia and Oregon.
Utah at home is the play. Not simply because of the home-field record, but because Oregon has not been tested against the run.
The Ducks have faced only two teams ranked in the top 100 in yards per rush attempt: Texas Tech (36th) and Washington (51st), both on the road. Oregon gave up a combined 275 rushing yards and 4.85 yards per carry in beating Texas Tech by eight and losing to Washington by three.
Utah is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, but in its last three games that has jumped to 4.7. Keep an eye on safety Sione Vaki, who is playing two roles and averaging 9.3 yards per rush on 25 carries. Vaki has had back-to-back stellar performances, rushing for 158 yards against Cal and totaling 217 yards rushing and receiving against USC.
Utah features the best defense Oregon will face this season and that could portend trouble.
We’ve yet to really see the negative road splits from Oregon quarterback Bo Nix. However, that could change this week as Utah has generated 19 sacks at home compared to just six on the road. Utah DE Jonah Elliss is third in the FBS for total sacks and second in sack yards lost. The Ducks have a good offensive line, but it will be tested this week.
If Utah pulls out the win, that means it is one of the top teams in the Pac-12. To improve to 7-1 without star quarterback Cam Rising and numerous other players injured would be legit. Utah has some good wins. Beating Oregon would be a great win. Back Utah at home as a 6.5-point underdog.