Pick – Analysis
An opening Pac-12 win is vital for both teams, but maybe more so for Oregon who still hope to compete for a Playoff spot. The Ducks have to keep up with Stanford after they upset USC last weekend. The 3-0 Utes will be far from an easy Game, but the Ducks are still an -11 point favorite as of Wednesday night (at 5 Dimes Sportsbook).
Oregon took last year’s meeting 51-27 in Salt LAke City. The Scoremay have been lopsided, but Utah could’ve easily led 14-0 early in the Game if it wasn’t for a terrible fumble right by the goal line. After that, the Ducks took control and ended up scoring 48 points in the second and Fourth quarters combined.
The difference this year is that obviously Marcus Mariota is gone, who passed for three touchdowns and ran for 114 yards and another touchdown. Not only that, but Oregon still has more new faces than the Utes, most notably on the defensive side where they continue to struggle.
As of Wednesday, all signs pointed to Vernon Adams returning to quarterback after Jeff Lockie led the way last week against lowly Georgia State. It also looks like Travis Wilson will return for Utah after Kendal Thompson led the Utes over Fresno State. The QB questions are why it took so long for the line to come out.
Utah has had a steady season, beating three quality teams to start, but a road Game at Oregon presents a different test altogether.
The Utes haven’t been able to do much against this Oregon offense the last couple years. However, with a weaker defense for the Ducks (33.7 points per Game allowed), that may play into the hands of Utah’s offense, which is also a main reason the line isn’t bigger.
The Utes will try and run the ball as much as possible in an effort to keep Adams off the field, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they had more success than last year (120 yards rushing). Devontae Booker has picked up where he left off in 2014 and already has 345 yards and Four touchdowns. His yards per carry is a bit lower, but he’ll still get fed the ball as much as possible.
But what can Utah do against Vernon Adams and the Oregon offense? The quarterback is new, but almost every other position is not, with Royce Freeman coming out of the backfield along with Bralon Addison, Charles Nelson and Byron Marshall as receivers. This team still has the ability to put up a ton of points, but can their defense hold up?
If Booker can get going along with Wilson or Thompson at QB, the Utes will be able to milk the clock a little bit, and they’ll just need to put up points in the process. The line doesn’t seem like a lot for Oregon in this matchup, but Utah will be out to prove themselves in this Game.
The Utes are 8-0 ATS in their last eight road Games against a team with a winning home record, while the Ducks have covered in eight straight Conference Games. What trend will break in this Game?
Our Pick – One of the stats we always pay close attnetion to is yards per point. It takes 4 weeks before those stats really start to take shape but we can take a look at them after 3 weeks. When looking at those numbers for this Game, we see Utah with a very good 11.2 on offense and equally as good 19.9 on defense for a +8.7 differential. Oregon also has a very good offensive number of 11.2 however their defensive number is just 13.5. Their differential is +2.3.
Now, if the two tams had played a Schedule that was even in strength, we could use those numbers to make a true line. In this case it would be Utah by 6.4 points before factoring in the Oregon Home field. Even if you wanted to give Oregon a TD for the home field in this spot, it would still make the Game close to pick em making the +11.5 very attractive.
Not coincidentally, when we run this Game thru Our model using only data from this season, the model says flip a coin, it’s that close. So, Utah +11.5