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Oregon hasn’t looked impressive against a good team since it played Ohio State — and that was not the same Ohio State team. The Ducks can move the ball with Dye on the ground, but Brown is not a true threat to throw the ball. Not only will Utah win this game, it might not be within a touchdown. We like Utah to cover the spread and on the money line.
Garcia’s 2021 record: (20-18)
It’s rarely been pretty this year (since what is still the best win in college football this year, on the road against Ohio State) for the Ducks, but outside of one bad week, Oregon has continued to find a way to win.
For the offense — it’s always been finding a way to score one more time than the defense. That goes back to a game against Cal when the Ducks needed two fourth-quarter scores to survive against a 1-5 team.
A few weeks later, Oregon was up just one score in the final minutes against a sub-.500 Washington team before a safety ended the game.
Yes, Oregon can only play who is on its schedule, but four of the last five wins have come against teams below .500 and they haven’t been impressive, which is why there are legitimate question marks. That said, lately, the offense has been humming. It starts with the ground game and Travis Dye who has been one of the best running backs in the Pac-12 this season, particularly the last five weeks. During that time Dye has tallied 517 yards on the ground, 224 through the air, and 11 total touchdowns.
That’s compensated for the fact that Oregon has acknowledged Anthony Brown’s limitations as a quarterback. Yes, a few weeks ago he had 307 yards passing and three scores against Colorado, but the last two games have shown he’s not a true passing threat.
His last two games, Brown is 27-of-42 passing for 233 yards, two scores, and one touchdown. That would be average for one game, and that was over two.
Not to mention, Utah’s defense has held six of its seven conference opponents to fewer than 30 points.
The Utes don’t have anybody who jumps off the page, any names who are known nationally, or any one-man game changer. But what they do have is depth and a belief in one another and make no bones about it — that can go a long way.
Look at the weapons in the passing game for example. The leading receiver on the team is tight end Brant Kuithe, with 36 catches for 369 yards and five touchdowns.
However, Devaughn Vele (19 catches for 346 yards), Dalton Kincaid (24 catches for 345 yards), and Britain Covey (36 catches for 300 yards) are all right behind him. In total, 11 Utah players either have more than 100 receiving yards or have caught a touchdown.
That’s because Cameron Rising, a dual-threat sophomore quarterback, has been sensational since taking over the job full-time Week 3.
Rising is seventh in the country in QBR (82.6) and has 14 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions.
Not to mention, he’s rather mobile, having rushed 45 times for 321 yards and four touchdowns — all which rank in the top four on the team.
The X-factor for the Utes comes in the backfield. If Tavion Thomas is still out with an injury, it’s up to TJ Pledger to try and back up his impressive game from last week. Pledger is a more-than-capable back — he has 502 yards on just 69 carries and five scores — but this will be the biggest game of his career.
On the flipside, the x-factor is one of the best kickers in the country in Oregon’s Camden Lewis. He hasn’t been perfect — but he’s been one kick away. Lewis is 44-of-45 on extra points this season and a perfect 10-of-10 on his field goals, including connecting on all four attempts from 40+ yards away.
Kickers on the road in college football can make or break a game, this is an edge for the Ducks.
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|Oregon Ducks vs Utah Utes Information
|No. 3 Oregon Ducks at No. 24 Utah Utes
|Rice–Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Utah.
|Saturday, Nov. 20, 7:30 p.m. EST
|How to watch
Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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