Pac 12 Championship Game Picks: Oregon vs. Utah
Oregon Ducks vs. Utah Utes, Friday December 6, 8 p.m. ET
Oregon vs. Utah Playoff Implications
The Utes have a solid chance of making it into the playoff , but they don't control their own destiny. They got the fifth spot in the last playoff ranking ahead of Oklahoma, which certainly makes things easier. But they still need a break. Their game is up first of the five major conference championships, so their first job is to win against Oregon and to score some style points in the effort. If they lose, they are out. If they win, though, they still need a spot in the top four to open up. That isn't likely to happen if Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia all win. A Clemson loss would open up a spot for Utah, but they are favored by more than four touchdowns against Virginia , so that isn't likely to happen. Ohio State likely wouldn't drop out even with a loss. That leaves it to the SEC game. If LSU wins , Georgia would have two losses and would drop out. That's the easiest path, and all Utah fans will be massive LSU fans on Saturday. Even that doesn't guarantee anything, though. If Utah doesn't win impressively, and Oklahoma or Baylor dominate in the Big 12 title game then things could get really tense for the Utes.
No matter what, there are going to be a lot of ulcers created in the state of Utah over the next few days.
College Football Predictions: Oregon vs. Utah Odds and Picks
For both of these teams, there was a lot of success this year, but they both had a completely regrettable loss that really made things much harder for them. Oregon lost their opener to Auburn, but it was a respectable loss against a decent team, and it happened early, so it was a long way from fatal. But two games back they took the eye off the ball and lost by a field goal as 13-point favorites at Arizona State. That just can't happen, and it immediately meant that all that was left to play for was pride. They can be a spoiler, but they can't claim anything more meaningful than a conference title and a Rose Bowl berth for themselves. Utah's loss came earlier, and it also wasn't pretty. They lost to a USC team that struggled to figure out whether they should fire their coach or not at the end of the year - a decision they badly botched, by the way. They have won eight games since, and seven of them were by lopsided scores, but their margin of error has been washed away.
Oregon vs. Utah Betting Storylines
The easiest story to set up for this game is about defenses, and that isn't good news for the Ducks. Oregon allowed 31 points to Arizona State two back and 10 more to a very poor Oregon State team last week. They are not dialed in defensively, and now they are facing a very dangerous Utah offense led by QB Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss. The offense has scored at least 33 points in five in a row and seven of the last eight, and there is little reason to think that they can't make another run at that kind of production again. The bigger story, though, is with Utah's defense. Only Clemson and Ohio State have allowed fewer yards per game than the Utes. Solid company. Over this eight-game winning streak, they have held five opponents to fewer than 10 points and have allowed just 76 points in total - 9.5 per game. They have scored 308 in that time. This is a very good Utah defense. And while Oregon has played well offensively at times this year, they are coming off two games in a row in which they have not at all felt dangerous. That's all a long way of saying that it is no real mystery why Utah is a solid favorite in this one.
One thing that Utah is very good at is forcing teams into uncomfortable third down situations. Oregon QB Justin Herbert is not at his sharpest right now, and he hasn't proven to be the pressure decision-maker that people hoped he would be when he was touted as a potential very high draft pick last year at this time. If Utah can keep him uncomfortable, they will control this game. And they very much are capable of doing that.
Oregon vs. Utah Odds and Betting Trends
The Utes opened as five-point favorites, and that has since climbed to 6.5 . Just over 60 percent of bets have been on Utah, so we aren't likely to see it press to the key number of seven without some news or a shift in betting patterns. The total opened as high as 51 and has fallen to as low as 46.
The Utes have not only won their last eight, but they have covered the spread each time - always as a favorite. They are 23-9-1 ATS in their last 33 conference games. The Ducks are just 1-4 ATS in their last five neutral-site games and 1-5 ATS in their last six games as underdog.
Oregon vs. Utah Predictions and Picks
Utah, and especially Huntley and Moss, don't get as much national respect as they deserve. They aren't forgotten, obviously - they did get ranked ahead of Oklahoma, which is just massive. But if you haven't watched this team, it would be easy to underestimate just how good they are. They are ferocious defensively and explosive on offense. Oregon does things well, but it feels like they have overachieved, and that they are a long way from their peak currently. Neither is true with Utah. The Utes are the comfortable pick against the spread.
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