Two struggling Pac-12 squads seeking to snapthree-game losing streaks meet Saturday as Oregon hosts Utah. The Ducks havedropped four of their last five following a 3-0 start while the Utes are 0-3since starting 4-0.
Oregon hasn’t won since starting quarterbackJustin Herbert went down with a broken collarbone in the second half of a Sept.30 win over California, and the Ducks have averaged only 10.3 points – none inthe second half – and committed eight turnovers in the three losses since.“It’s not about who we’re playing; it’s about us,” Oregon first-year coachWillie Taggart said Monday in his weekly news conference. “If you look at theballgames, we’re not getting dominated. We’re in our own way, and we’ve got toget out of our own way.” The early week sentiment was much the same in SaltLake City two days after the Utes turned the ball over four times and hit a seasonscoring low in a 30-10 home loss to Arizona State. “You have to get ready forthe next Saturday regardless of what happened the previous one,” KyleWhittingham said at his Monday press gathering. “So, I think (we have) a prettymature football team, I think we have good leadership and my guess is we willcome back and have a good week of practice.”
TV: 5:45 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: Utah -4
ABOUT UTAH (4-3, 1-2 Pac-12): Sophomore dual-threatquarterback Tyler Huntley returned Saturday after missing the previous twocontests with a shoulder injury, but struggled through a 19-of-35, 155-yard,four-interception performance. His two main weapons are running back Zack Moss(96.7 total yard per game) and wide receiver Darren Carrington II who isaveraging a conference-most 92.7 receiving yards and will be facing the team heplayed his first three seasons with. Utah ranks third in the Pac-12 in bothscoring (21.4 points) and total (349.6 yards) defense and has received a strongseason from cornerback Julian Blackmon who ranks among the conference leadersin interceptions (two) and passes defended (six).
ABOUT OREGON (4-4, 1-4): Taggart said Monday thatHerbert should return “sooner rather than later,” but in the meantime, theDucks will continue to rely on true freshman Braxton Burmeister, who hascompleted 27-of-51 attempts for 246 yards, one TD and five interceptions.Oregon also will lean heavily on senior running back Royce Freeman, who hasrushed for at least 140 yards in five games this season and ranks third in thePac-12 with 119.6 per outing. Linebacker Troy Dye ranks second in theconference in total tackles (8.63 per game) for a defense which ranks fourth inthe conference in yards allowed (367.8) but is 10th in pointssurrendered (30.4).
1. Oregon has won three of the four Pac-12meetings after a 30-28 victory a year ago in Salt Lake City. The Ducks scoredthe winning TD with two seconds remaining on a Carrington reception in the backof the end zone that was initially ruled out of bounds but was overturnedfollowing a replay review.
2. Both teams rank among the Pac-12 rushingdefense leaders with Oregon second (119.0 yards) and Utah fourth (131.9).
3. Utah LB Donavan Thompson and safety CorrionBallard will miss the first half Saturday after getting hit with targetingejections last week against the Sun Devils.
PREDICTION: Utah 31, Oregon 30