No. 17 Utah picked up one of the biggest statement victories of the season when it dominated No. 10 Oregon 38-7 on Nov. 20 to clinch the Pac-12 South title and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. It was a tremendous occasion the Utes who battled back from a 1-2 start and yet another tragedy with the death of defensive back Aaron Lowe to beat the league's top team. Now, Friday's rematch with the Ducks brings the chance for Utah to accomplish something it has never done before.
This will be the program's third appearance in the Pac-12 title game and provides another opportunity for the Utes to finally break through and stand atop the league. In 2019, these teams met for the conference title and Oregon won 37-15. In 2018, Utah lost a crushing 10-3 game against Washington in this spot.
The Utes will hope that the third time is a charm and they can stop Oregon from claiming a third consecutive Pac-12 title. While the Nov. 20 loss at Utah doomed the Ducks' chances of making the College Football Playoff, a Rose Bowl appearance is still hanging in the balance. This is an opportunity for them to show that they remain the class of the conference.
Oregon vs. Utah: Need to know
Establishing the run: Oregon averaged just 2.7 yards per rush against Utah in the first meeting. If the Ducks are going to win this time around, they need to establish the ground game. They took steps in that regard in a win over Oregon State last week by registering 231 yards on 41 attempts. But Utah's defense kept its stifling pace last week by limiting Colorado to 64 yards rushing and just 148 total yards in a 28-13 victory.
Converting in enemy territory: Oregon made six trips into Utah territory during the first meeting and scored only once. The Ducks missed two field goals, suffered two turnovers on downs and punted once on their other five trips across midfield. Oregon's lone score came on a 36-yard completion from Anthony Brown to Devon Williams on a possession that never reached the red zone. So the Ducks, technically, ended the game 0-for-3 on red zone trips. It's hard to believe they will be so inept this time around.
Special teams matter: In addition to the two missed field goals, Oregon also allowed Utah punt returner Britain Covey to run a punt back 78 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. The play set off a frenzy inside of Utah's Rice-Eccles Stadium and sent the Utes to the half with all the momentum. Establishing the run is a matter of physicality that is difficult to manipulate. But special teams blunders and red zone failures are matters of execution and focus that Oregon will need to correct in order to have a different outcome in the rematch.
How to watch Oregon vs. Utah live
Date: Friday, Dec. 3 | Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Allegiant Stadium -- Las Vegas
TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Oregon vs. Utah prediction, picks
Oregon won't be the bumbling wreck that it was when these teams met the first time. But it's fair to wonder how motivated the Ducks will be for this game. It's a "been there and done that" spot for Oregon, which has won the last two Pac-12 title games. For Utah, this is a chance to reach a new frontier as it strives for its first conference championship game victory. Look for Utah to be the more physical team, conquer the turnover battle and win a game that will be close until late in the fourth quarter. Prediction: Utah (-2.5)
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