I already posted a writeup and pick for UCLA and Arizona, another big game in the Big-12 this week is between Utah and Oregon. This is a week for the Big-12 to take the stage and be the conference to focus on. There isn’t much going on in the SEC, other than Tennessee and Arkansas I guess, but in the Big-12 there should be some exciting football being played. Utah has been the stepchild to the rest of the big schools in the conference, such as USC, Oregon, UCLA, Stanford, and so forth. Nobody has really taken them serious over the years, even last season where they looked like the big boys of the Big-12. This season people hear the name Utah and probably shrug their shoulders and still don’t realize the extent of how good they can be. Last season the Utes defeated Michigan, UCLA, USC, and Stanford. Those wins don’t happen just as the result of some fluky occurrences. They deserved those wins, and further solidify themselves as a good team in the conference.
By looking at the scoreboard of the Oregon and Utah game last year, one could come to the conclusion that the Duck thoroughly dominated their competition in that game. But the scoreboard doesn’t always tell the true story of what really went down. What went down is a close game between the Utes and Ducks. The game took a turn when Utah was heading in for a touchdown and the runner dropped the ball short of the goal line. Oregon picked the ball up and ran it back for a touchdown before anyone knew what was going on. Utah still made it a game, but that incident was too much to overcome. That was a 14 point swing right there. Utah is going to need to avoid the mental lapses to beat Oregon this year on the road.
Oregon is coming off a hard loss. Yes, they played Georgia State last week and beat up on them 61-28. Which, actually, doesn’t impress me much allowing 28 points to GSU. But anyway, the loss against Michigan State is still fresh on the minds of everyone associated with Oregon football. They had a glorious opportunity of stealing that one in East Lansing two weeks ago, but a severely overthrown ball landed incomplete in the MSU end zone to a wide open receiver by about 10 years. That is a play that might come back to haunt them. After all of the effort that goes into preparing for games and playing, seasons do usually come down to a handful of plays, among the elite teams of college football anyway. The next best thing for now will be beating Utah. A game that is a must win if they want to stay in the picture. Will they do it? I talk about that in more detail in the rest of the article.
Utah Utes vs. Oregon Ducks College Football Pick
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Utah vs. Oregon Pick:
Utah at 3-0 can shake the Big-12 up with a win tonight. It’d put Oregon at 3-2 and the Utes with a perfect mark of 4-0. That would do enough to shift the power of the conference in another direction. For now at least, Utah would be able to bask atop the Big-12, with other members of the conference getting beat already or looking shaky, such as UCLA. I suspect even if Utah won this week they wouldn’t get the respect they deserve, but first thing is first, win the game. Even after beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl some years ago, the perception was that Utah won because Bama killed themselves with errors. Sure they did, but Utah was a good team, and they have a good team this year as well. The Utes are led by a veteran at quarterback, Travis Wilson. However he got injured against Utah State two weeks ago, deeming him inactive for Fresno State last week. If Wilson can’t go, Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson will be at the controls.
Thompson has minimal experience as a starter, but he did get to learn and grow as a backup at Oklahoma. He also got a start last week against Fresno State, finishing with a touchdown and an interception. Here is the kicker though, Oregon might be without their starter as well. Neither team has indicated what they are going to do at quarterback.
Both original starters could be under center, one of them could, or neither. Jeff Lockie started for Oregon last week against Eastern Washington, Marcus Mariota’s backup from last season. Not much can be distinguished between Thompson and Lockie off those two starts. They both got inferior opponents. Oregon starter Vernon Adams said this week that the finger he broke two weeks ago still hurts, and he would like to be out there playing at 80 percent. The Utes are going to lean on Devontae Booker, the talented senior at running back. He has averaged 115 yards on the ground over the first three games, scoring 4 touchdowns. Utah is an underrated team, one of the more underrated ones in the country. I predict them getting up for this game and at least keeping it within 10 points to cover the points.
PICK: UTAH +10.5 (-110)