Friday, December 1, 2023

Oregon vs. Utah game: Prediction, expert picks, kickoff time, live stream, how to watch, TV channel

Two teams aiming to make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game will collide Saturday when No. 8 Oregon travels to take on No. 13 Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Both teams enter the game with confidence coming off victories in Week 8 with Oregon bouncing back in a 38-24 win against Washington State while Utah notched its third consecutive win against Lincoln Riley, Caleb Williams and USC in a 34-32 thriller. 

For much of the league’s recent history, Oregon and Utah have represented the class of the conference. The Ducks and Utes combined for 12 division titles from 2011-21, and the Utes have claimed each of the last two conference championships. This year, as Utah goes for a three-peat and Oregon looks to win its first conference title since, 2010, their head-to-head showdown takes on even more importance as each team already has one conference loss. Utah lost at Oregon State last month and Oregon lost at Washington two weeks ago. 

Oregon leads the series history 24-12, including a hard-fought 20-17 win against the Utes in Eugene last year. And while the Ducks even leads the series when the game is played in Salt Lake City (10-6), they are just 2-2 since Kyle Whittingham took over as Utah’s coach. This is also the fifth straight meeting that both teams are in the AP Top 25 and the fourth in that span that both teams are in the top 15. 

Oregon vs. Utah: Need to know

One of college football’s best home-field advantages: Utah is 116-36 in Rice-Eccles Stadium since 1998 and 88-25 at home since Whittingham took over, logging undefeated home seasons in 2008, 2009, 2019, 2021 and 2022. In total, this is a program that’s riding a streak of 29 wins in the last 30 home games, and the advantage works in multiple ways that complement each other: The crowd is routinely excellent with their impact on the game, the setting is at altitude in Salt Lake City and opponents face a brutal physicality from the Utes that’s core to the identity of Whittingham’s program. It’s hard to play winning football when you’re exhausted, bruised and can’t hear yourself think, and Utah’s fans embrace their impact on the game, especially in high-profile contests like having the top-10 Ducks in town. 

Moving on without Rising: Returning starter Cam Rising had been monitored throughout the season looking to return from an ACL injury in the Rose Bowl, but in the wake of the USC win, Whittingham made it official that Rising would not return to action this season. With the uncertainty in the rearview, starting quarterback Bryson Barnes and the Utah offense take center stage as one of the key pieces to the Utes’ Pac-12 title hopes. Barnes is coming off one of his best games of the season, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception against the Trojans while adding 57 yards and a score on the ground. That in-season improvement is a great sign leading into not only Saturday’s showdown with Oregon but a trip to Seattle to face top-five Washington on Nov. 11. 

Ducks led by high-flying offense: Oregon ranks second in the nation in both scoring offense (47.0 points per game) and total offense (551.6 yards per game), and it ranks in the top five among all FBS teams in both rushing touchdowns (21) and passing touchdowns (21). That balance is led by Bo Nix, who leads the nation with a 78.4% completion percentage and is the only quarterback in the country with at least 15 touchdowns and just one interception, as well as a one-two punch at running back of Bucky Irving and Jordan James. Oregon has yet to score fewer than 33 points in a game this season and Utah has yet to give up more than 32, so something has to give when the Ducks have the ball facing this stout Utah defense. 

How to watch Oregon vs. Utah live

Date: Saturday, Oct. 28 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Rice Eccles Stadium — Salt Lake City
TV: Fox | Live stream: fubo (Try for free)

Oregon vs. Utah prediction, picks

Odds via SportsLine consensus

The trends of Utah at home are so strong it feels irresponsible to step on the other side, but I do think that Oregon is a more balanced and well-rounded team that would be favored by double-digits on a neutral site. But college football is not decided in a vacuum with neutral conditions, so Utah clearly has a better chance to win given the setting in Salt Lake City. Still, I think Utah poured it out last week against USC while the Ducks were able to get healthy and bounce back from the Washington loss, so maybe some of that home-field advantage is negated by Oregon being a little bit fresher.  Pick: Oregon -6.5 

Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 9, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons — and find out.

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