Two teams in the Pac-12 are vying for a chance at the conference championship as No. 8 Oregon prepares to take on No. 13 Utah in Salt Lake City this Saturday. Both teams enter the game with momentum, coming off victories in Week 8. Oregon bounced back with a 38-24 win against Washington State, while Utah secured its third consecutive win in a thrilling 34-32 matchup against USC.
Oregon and Utah have been dominant forces in the Pac-12 in recent years, with a combined total of 12 division titles from 2011-2021. The Utes have won the last two conference championships, and this year they are aiming for a three-peat. On the other hand, Oregon is determined to win its first conference title since 2010. With both teams having already suffered one conference loss, this head-to-head showdown carries even greater significance.
Historically, Oregon has the edge in the series, leading 24-12. Last year, the Ducks secured a hard-fought 20-17 victory against the Utes in Eugene. Although Oregon also holds a positive record when playing in Salt Lake City (10-6), they have gone 2-2 against Utah since Kyle Whittingham took over as head coach. This will be the fifth consecutive meeting in which both teams are ranked in the AP Top 25, further intensifying the matchup.
The game will be played at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, widely known for its electric atmosphere and its impact on the game. Utah boasts an impressive record at home, with a 116-36 record since 1998 and an 88-25 record under Coach Whittingham. The Utes' fans create a raucous environment that can make it challenging for opposing teams to succeed.
Utah has endured the loss of starting quarterback Cam Rising, who will not return to action this season due to injury. However, quarterback Bryson Barnes stepped up in the recent win against USC, throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns while adding a rushing touchdown. Barnes will play a vital role in Utah's pursuit of the Pac-12 title, with tough matchups against Oregon and Washington on the horizon.
Meanwhile, Oregon boasts one of the most dynamic offenses in college football. The Ducks rank second in both scoring offense (47.0 points per game) and total offense (551.6 yards per game). Quarterback Bo Nix leads the nation in completion percentage (78.4%) and has excelled with 15 touchdowns and just one interception. The team has a balanced attack with a formidable rushing duo in Bucky Irving and Jordan James. However, they face a tough challenge against Utah's stout defense, which has yet to surrender more than 32 points in a game this season.
Oddsmakers favor Utah due to their dominant home-field advantage, but Oregon is a well-rounded team that could potentially match up favorably against them on a neutral site. Both teams enter the game after contrasting performances in Week 8, with Utah exerting a tremendous effort against USC while Oregon had the opportunity to regroup from their loss to Washington. This may mitigate some of the home-field advantage for Utah.
Ultimately, this Pac-12 showdown between No. 8 Oregon and No. 13 Utah holds immense importance for both teams' conference title aspirations. The outcome of this highly anticipated clash will have significant implications on the race to the Pac-12 Championship Game.