Friday, December 3, 2021

Good Luck Ducks: Pac-12 Championship Edition

It's the Utes, again. 
Oregon took care of business against their in-state rival last week to set up another meeting with Utah in the Pac-12 Championship, with a Rose Bowl bid on the line. Two weeks removed from a critical beatdown at the hands of the Utes in Rice-Eccles Stadium that also knocked them out of playoff contention, the Ducks will attempt to do things... differently this time? Let's hope so! Tonight's game is at a neutral site in Las Vegas, although Salt Lake City is certainly a shorter trip than a trek from Eugene would be. (To be fair, it's usually pretty cheap to fly to and from Vegas.) This year's team has been a bit of a challenge to get behind, but the hope is that won't translate into poor support during the conference title game itself.

Anthony Brown Jr. had one of his best games of the season last week against Oregon State, which should hopefully bring some momentum into his play tonight. There's been talk of the Ducks simplifying their defensive schemes this time around, but it's hard to completely fault the defense for a game when you only scored 7 points. There was plenty of blame to pass around for that debacle, and I'm not sure I'd even start with the defense. Oregon will continue to be short-handed in the receiving game, but they have enough talent (hello, Devon Williams!) to keep Utah honest. As is the usual goal, they will have to establish both a consistent passing presence and the running game to have a shot.

On the Utah side, Tavion Thomas shows no signs of slowing down, and QB Cameron Rising continues to be a threat. There's no reason to expect anything differently out of the Utes offense this time around. The key will be to see if Oregon can adjust to all of the different ways they were stifled defensively in the last game, lest they suffer a similar fate (and a lesser bowl game.)

Series History: Well, now it's Oregon with a 23-11 all-time edge. Perhaps more important is the Utah/Oregon Pac-12 Championship history, where the Ducks hold a 1-0 advantage. You can also look at Oregon's Pac-12 Championship record, where they are undefeated at 4-0.

Opponent Talk: The Utes are looking to rise to the top of the Pac-12 in their 11th season in the conference.

I didn't want to do this, but... remember Kaelin Clay?

Game time is 5:00 PM PST on ABC. Go Ducks!

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