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Preview: Oregon Ducks and Utah Utes Set For Top 25 Matchup

The #4 Oregon Ducks and #17 Utah Utes are ready to collide in Salt Lake City on Saturday night. In order to have much of a chance, the Utes will need to slow Oregon's Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota and the Ducks high-powered attack.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Less than a week ago, life in Salt Lake City was on the cusp of being changed for the immediate future.  The Utah Utes were a corralled interception away from beating the Arizona State Sun Devils on their home turf and escaping Tempe with a mentally stable kicker, and more importantly, a victory.

Playing the "what if" game can be as maddening as it is fun, but it seems probably to assume that even if the Utes had upset the Devils, College Gameday still would have elected to head to East Lansing over Salt Lake City.  (They chose the mid-40 degree weather of East Lansing, Michigan over the 90-degree day scheduled for Tempe, Arizona.)

Although a top-10 Pac-12 matchup dances like sugarplums in our heads, we will have to settle for the same tired David (anyone that's not Oregon, or Stanford) vs. Goliath (Oregon) narrative that has dominated the conversation for the past handful of seasons.  But in this situation, it actually fits.

Oregon actually is Goliath.  Marcus Mariota is the Greek God of gunslinging, and his militia is comprised of incredibly quick receivers and backs that tear up any turf they inhibit.

Ask anyone with half an eye on the current college football season and they'll tell you Mariota has their vote for Heisman.  With an offensive line that some prep high schools couldn't use to protect their quarterbacks, Mariota is still producing (Jake Fisher is back protecting his blindside).  Never mind his astounding 26:2 touchdown-interception ratio, but he is also mauling the rest of the country in Adjusted Passing Yards Per Attempt (AY/A) and Passer Efficiency Rating.

Then, there is David.  To be more specific, Travis.  Travis Wilson, in fact.  While David was supposedly small (I wasn't there to bear witness, I can't be 100 percent sure), Wilson is a redwood.  Even with his height advantage, Wilson is going to need a lot more than the heart of a Biblical warrior in order to help Utah win this game.

Last weekend in Tempe, Devontae Booker was "The Whole Damn Show."  Understandably so, considering Dres Anderson will now be wearing sneakers opposed to cleats the rest of the season.  But, in order to topple the beast, a la The Sandlot crew taking down Hercules, the Utes will need more than their Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez (Booker).

Oregon is going to score.  No matter the defense in front of them, they will find a way to put up points.  (See: Michigan State)  The Utes have played well this season against some very solid Pac-12 quarterbacks (Cody Kessler and Taylor Kelly standout), but none have been Marcus Mariota, the consensus number one overall draft pick in next season's NFL Draft.

Granted, it's not as if the Ducks are robots.  While Mariota and his militia may play like video game characters, they've already been beaten this season, inside of Pac-12 play.  The Arizona Wildcats let them score a modest number (24), while playing their style and matching them blow for blow.  The only chance Utah has is to slow down number eight in white and hope the Ducks haven't put it all together after last week's drubbing of Stanford.

The Ducks are the #4 ranked team in the nation and currently slotted into the first ever College Football Playoff.  That dream is now deferred for the Utes who have entered the multiple loss category after last week, but that surely won't slow down a program that is bordering on starvation for redemption.