PAC-12 Championship Preview: #13 Oregon vs. #5 Utah

The PAC-12 Championship takes place tonight and has CFB Playoff implications. Everyone thought that Oregon was going to walk away with this conference during the preseason but Utah had other ideas.

Why We’re Watching

Aside from being 1 of 10 total CFB games this weekend, this game has the makeup of a potential show-stealer. Most people will see the B1G Championship. SEC Championship, and BIG 12 Championship games as more intriguing games, but…

NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND!

A statement win from Utah here could push them into the CFB Playoffs, with some help from other teams games this weekend, of course.

Oregon Offense vs. Utah Defense

An offense led by a future 1st-round draft pick, QB Justin Herbert, has no trouble moving the ball down the field. Oregon wants the ball in Herbert’s hands at all times, but that doesn’t mean they won’t beat teams on the ground. CJ Verdell is 40 yards away from a 1,000-yard season and you can bet on him wanting to hit that mark tonight. But, when they get close to scoring, Cyrus Habibi-Likio takes over in the backfield as evidenced by his 10 rushing touchdowns. This duo will have a tough matchup in the PAC-12 Championship, so I can see the Ducks relying on Johnny Johnson III, Jaylon Redd, Jacob Breeland to catch passes from the star QB.

Justin Herbert via PAC12Network for PAC-12 Championship
Justin Herbert via PAC12Network

Utah is only allowing 56 rushing yards per game this season so I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Oregon will have to pass the ball in the PAC-12 Championship. The best defense in college football, arguably, is only allowing 11 points per game! Justin Herbert is going to struggle and he’ll have to prove why he’s so highly touted amongst scouts.

Utah Offense vs. Oregon Defense

The Utes offense is basically the opposite of the Ducks offense. Led by star RB Zack Moss, this Utah offense will run the ball down opponents throats after their creating 3-and-outs on defense. With over 1,200 rushing yards to his credit, Moss is the sole threat on this Utah offense. Dual-threat QB Tyler Huntley hasn’t been counted on to perform so his stats are quite bleh. When he has to throw, he goes to TE Brant Kuithe, who has proven to be his best target down the field.

Even though their defense has been good, by college football standards, the Oregon Ducks are nowhere near as effective as the Utes on defense. They still only allow 15 points per game, but the yardage totals worry me. When facing a talent like Zack Moss, you can’t have a track record of allowing 100+ yards on the ground to less talented backs.

Zack Moss via thedraftnetwork for PAC-12 Championship
Zack Moss via thedraftnetwork

Betting Done Quick

Spam the UNDER on any book that has the total set to 46.5 or higher. The defenses will keep this game in check and Zack Moss will control the clock. Also, some books have a spread set to Oregon +7.0, that should be a lock considering how tough of a defensive battle this will be.

Predictions

#13 Oregon: 17

#5 Utah: 21

Guaranteed Touchdown Scorer: Zack Moss

Dart Throw Touchdown Scorer: Tyler Huntley (rushing)

Best Fantasy QB: Justin Herbert

Better Fantasy RB: Zack Moss

Better Fantasy WR: Johnny Johnson III

Best Fantasy TE: Brant Kuithe

Conclusion

Who is going to win the PAC-12 Championship? Will Utah sneak into the CFB Playoffs? Let me know in the comments below! Also, check out the shop and other content by clicking here.

-Mitchell Seefeldt

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