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Pac-12 Championship Game Opponent Preview: Oregon

The University of Utah will represent the Pac-12 South for the third straight full season on Friday in a regular season rematch with the Oregon Ducks. Just two weeks ago, the nation watched Utah dominate Oregon to the tune of 38-7 in Rice-Eccles Stadium during primetime. Expect the Ducks to come out looking for revenge after a fairly convincing win over Oregon State last week, 38-29. The Utes will look to avenge the 2019 Pac-12 title game loss against Oregon to claim the program’s first ever Pac-12 championship.

Oregon strength: The running game

Similar to the preview earlier this season, Oregon’s success will begin and end with the running game. In their wins over Washington, Washington State, and Oregon State, the Ducks gained 329, 306, and 231 yards, respectively, for nine total touchdowns. In their loss to Utah, Oregon managed only 63 yards for zero touchdowns. If Oregon runs like they have in almost every other game this season, Utah will need to come up with key stops and hope the offense fires on all cylinders.

Oregon question mark: The defensive line

In the last preview, Kayon Thibodeaux was highlighted as the X-factor. When he is disruptive, the entire defense plays better, particularly the defensive line. Utah was successful at minimizing his impact with different looks, chipping, and scheming away from him. Despite seven tackles, Thibodeaux did not have a tackle for loss. In fact, linebacker Noah Sewell tallied the only tackle for loss by the Oregon defense in the last game. Oregon is loaded with talent, but just like their offense, it begins up front in the trenches to create opportunities for their playmakers, including Thibodeaux.

Oregon X-factor: Quarterback Anthony Brown

In the first meeting, Brown threw for 231 yards on 48.5% passing, one touchdown, and only eight yards on nine carries. He looked rattled for most of the game, very unlike the 275 yards and 82% completions passing, 83 yards rushing, and three total touchdowns. Will he make the correct adjustments and reads this time around, or does the Utah defense stall his decision-making ability again? Running back Travis Dye may be the feature back, but Brown is the motor that keeps the Oregon offense moving, and if he struggles to move the chains, the offense will falter again.

Prediction: Utah 28, Oregon 24