Saturday’s Pac-12 schedule begins with an afternoon game between the no. 12 Utah Utes and the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers scored a 42-34 win over Utah last year and are now seeking their first win in Salt Lake City since 2013. However, the Utes are 10.5-point home favorites with an over/under of 54.5 points.
Kyle Whittingham and the Utes have done a nice job of bouncing back from a tough loss to Florida in their season opener. Utah has rattled off three straight comfortable wins over Southern Utah, San Diego State, and Arizona State. That has them at 1-0 in conference play with a challenging October schedule ahead of them.
The Beavers, on the other hand, are coming off a 17-14 loss to USC in their Pac-12 opener last week. Oregon State held a late lead but couldn’t quite seal the deal, giving up a touchdown with 1:13 left in the game. Nevertheless, the Beavers opened the season with wins over Boise State, Fresno State, and Montana State, putting them at 3-1 heading into October.
Best Chance to Win
Before they were slowed down for most of their game against USC, the Oregon State offense had been off to a promising start in 2022. Junior Chance Nolan provides experience at quarterback alongside a balanced set of receivers. However, the big plays that Nolan and the Beavers created early in the season were replaced with four interceptions against the Trojans, as those turnovers clearly played a role in preventing Oregon State’s upset bid.
On the bright side, the Beavers played well defensively against a top-10 team last week despite giving up the game-winning score late. That was the only scoring drive Oregon State allowed last week that was over 41 yards long. However, the Beavers have also played down to their competition at times, allowing 32 points against Fresno State and 28 points against Montana State.
Give a Ute
Much like Oregon State, Utah also has an experienced quarterback leading the offense in Cameron Rising. The junior has been steady this season, already throwing 10 touchdown passes in four games while getting plenty of help from running back Tavion Thomas. However, the Utes don’t have much of a downfield game with only one of their top five receivers being a wide receiver and second-leading receiver Brant Kuithe being ruled out for the rest of the season.
Fortunately for the Utes, they’re capable of leaning on their defense at times. If you take away the loss to Florida, Utah has allowed just 27 total points in the team’s last three games. But while the Utes haven’t been properly challenged outside of the Florida game, they have plenty of talent on that side of the ball, especially in the secondary.
The Dam Breaks
For Oregon State, playing one of the Pac-12’s elite teams for a second straight week might be asking too much, especially with the Beavers going on the road after last week’s heartbreaking loss. The Utes are also the better defensive team, which could allow them to gain separation because the OSU defense may not match the intensity it had last week. Bet on Utah to pull away in the second half and cover the 10.5-point spread.
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