Oregon vs. Utah Expert Pick and Prediction – October 28, 2023
OREGON VS. UTAH EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – October 28, 2023 — The fact that Utah’s gotten to 6-1 without a quarterback is a testament to Kyle Whittingham and the program he’s built in Salt Lake City. The Utes are far and away the worst passing team in the Pac-12, averaging just 161.7 yards through the air per game. Only Stanford and Arizona State have scored fewer points per game than the Utes.
And yet, without Cam Rising taking a snap, Utah sits very much in the thick of the Pac-12 title race, tied at 3-1 with three other teams. The one loss came at Oregon State, where nobody gets out with a victory against the Beavers. By any measure, this has to be one of the best coaching jobs of Whittingham’s career.
Related: Dan’s College Football Picks Week 9
But now the Utes face their toughest test of the season: home to an Oregon team with its sights on the College Football Playoff. The Ducks’ aggression got the best of them again against Washington, which means Oregon now has no margin for error. If they want another shot at the Huskies, the Ducks pretty much have to run the table.
And that might be where Utah is really up against it: Oregon’s defense is every bit as good as the Utes’ defense, and the Ducks can move the ball. At 553 yards per game, Oregon leads the nation in offense. Can the Utes find a way to keep up?
(6-1 SU, 6-1 ATS)
(6-1 SU, 4-2-1 ATS)
When: Saturday, October 28th at 3:30 p.m. EDT
Where: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City
Public Bets: 74% on Oregon
Public Money: 77% on Oregon
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of October 25th, 2023.
Oregon vs. Utah In-Season Trends
The first half tends to be where Utah does its best work, as teams get adjusted to the elevation of Salt Lake City. The Utes have gone to the locker room with the lead in six straight home games, and they’ve played to the under in the first half in nine of their past 14 games.
That fits well with Oregon’s style, as the Ducks are a second-half team. Everyone remembers the game with Colorado, where the Ducks came out looking to prove a point, but most games see Oregon settle into the action over 15 to 20 minutes.
The Ducks have gone under nine times in the first half in their past 13 games. They also take their time settling in on the road; they’ve ended quarter one tied or trailing in five of their past seven away from Eugene.
This kind of weather isn’t going to be fun. The one positive is that at least the rain that’s going to pelt Salt Lake City early in the week will be over with by game time. But that’s it; the high will top out at 46 degrees on a cloudy, chilly day at elevation.
What does Utah’s pass defense do well? It gets to the quarterback regularly and forces bad decisions. The Utes are tied with Oregon for the most sacks in the Pac-12, and they haven’t even had the pleasure of facing the Colorado sieve at offensive line yet.
They’ve also picked off seven passes, and only Arizona can match their total of just five passing touchdowns allowed. Jonah Elliss is looking more like he’s going to hear his name called in the NFL Draft when his time at Utah’s done, and he’s already got 10 sacks this season.
Bo Nix has to stand up to the pressure. That was the major issue he had at Auburn, although the Tigers gave him no help on the offensive line. At Oregon, Nix has been well protected and made good decisions with the football. But he hasn’t faced a pass rush of Utah’s caliber yet this season; how he handles it will decide whether Oregon keeps rolling.
Utah’s defense has done an admirable job keeping the Utes’ heads above water this season. Most units would have broken down by now with the offense barely a step above Iowa levels.
But that’s not going to work against the likes of Oregon. The Ducks’ attack is too good for Utah to stop for a full 60 minutes. I think Utah can do it for 15, maybe 30, but anything beyond that is pushing it. This might be a great chance to live bet at the half and see if you can get the Ducks at a cheaper price.
Utah +2.5 1Q