Week 12 Weekend Matchup: Oregon Ducks vs. Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium
When: November 19, 2016 at 11 A.M. PT
Vegas Over/Under: Utah -14.5
After another disappointing loss last weekend, , the Ducks must now go on the road to play a tough Utah team. And as a result of last weekend’s blowout, Oregon is no longer bowl eligible for the first time since 2004 (when they were under former Head Coach Mike Bellotti).
Utah is coming off another dominating performance from last week, beating Arizona State by the score of 49-26. Utah is also having another great year, with a combined record of 8-2 (5-2 in conference play) while being ranked 15 overall nationally by the AP Poll.
Overall, the Ducks and Utes have played each other 29 times, with Oregon dominating that matchup (winning 20 of 29 games). It will be interesting to see how the 30th matchup turns out, considering that the last time these two teams squared off, Utah destroyed Oregon in front of their home crowd.
So what does each team need to do in order to capture a crucial victory on Saturday?
FOR OREGON: It is no secret that the Oregon’s biggest problem this season is defense (who are among the worst in college football). On Saturday, the Ducks’ defense will face another tough task of taking on a run-heavy offense from Utah.
In addition, the Ducks’ defense has not produced a turnover since the Arizona State game (October 29 to be exact). Defensive leaders Ugo Amadi, Brenden Schooler, and Troy Dye have to find a way to motivate the other defensive players to step up and play like their job is on the line, with a goal of limiting Utah to less than 50 points and 550 yards.
If Oregon has any shot of winning on Saturday, the defense must be more disciplined on making tackles, forcing turnovers and punts, and limiting penalty yardage.
On offense, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert will once again aim to lead the Ducks’ to a victory on Saturday. As of late, weakness in the offensive line has resulted in Herbert having to scramble and take major hits, so the front line needs to do a better job on Saturday of protecting the quarterback.
In five games, Herbert has completed 116-184 passes for 1,432 yards, resulting in 5 touchdowns, and four interceptions. In addition, Herbert has scrambled away from pressure 43 times, running for 122 yards, and one touchdown.
Although coming up short against Stanford, the Oregon running game was in full force last week and was led by Royce Freeman (who had over 100 yards rushing while scoring a couple touchdowns). And even though Tony Brooks-James and Kani Benoit had a tougher time gaining good yards last weekend, but look for that to turn around this weekend.
Week after week, Pharaoh Brown has been the go-to-man, putting up larger than life numbers. Look for this to continue while also making greater use of playmakers Darren Carrington, Jalen Brown, Johnny Mundt, and Charles Nelson if the Ducks have any chance at spoiling the party in Utah.
FOR UTAH: Although the Utes find themselves positioned third in the Pac-12 South division, they are coming into Saturday’s matchup to prove that they are a top contender in the Pac-12 South Standings, and continue their rise in the national rankings.
At the helm of the Utah offense is quarterback Troy Williams, who has had a very impressive year. Williams has completed 163-297 passes for 2,184 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions. In addition, Williams has proven to be an effective dual threat quarterback, by gaining 187 rushing yards and scoring five touchdowns.
Regardless, expect Utah’s offense to rely more on their running game. After coming out of retirement, Joe Williams has been a force to be reckoned with, carrying the ball 163 times for 939 yards and scoring eight touchdowns. Behind Williams, Armand Shyne and Zack Moss have also been impressive (combining 152 carries for 710 yards and six touchdowns).
Although the running game is the primary focus for the Utah Ute team, they do have an impressive receiving core. Look for Utah to give the ball to top receivers Tim Patrick, Raelon Singleton, Cory Butler-Byrd, Evan Moeai, and Siaosi Wilson (who have combined for 111 receptions, 1,717 yards, and scored 12 touchdowns).
Utah also has a very powerful defensive core that is currently ranked 37 in the nation. In ten games the Utes have only given up 3,685 yards (368.5 yards per game) and 29 touchdowns. No matter if you run or pass the ball, Utah is very physical and can put a hurting on you big time.
Bottom line, the way that Oregon has been playing this season, the Ducks are going to have a very tough time keeping up with this Utah team. This season has turned out to be a rebuilding year for the Ducks. So let’s just hope that the team will continue to show improvement week to week and instead concentrate on the fundamentals, such as reducing the amount of penalty minutes, completing tackles, and not giving up big yardage plays.
Prediction: Although the Ducks have several talented stars and a bright future with Justin Herbert, they are not yet equipped to stop the storm that Utah will be bringing against them on Saturday and will be blown out by the powerful Ute team by a score of 62-21.
Wrap Up Notes: The Oregon Ducks do not have any visitors this weekend, nor will they have any for the remainder of the season.