Ducks Wire Roundtable: Predictions and opinions for the Oregon vs. Utah game

Talk about a weird week to make predictions about the Oregon Ducks, right?

If things weren’t already heightened enough with the Ducks coming off of a loss and looking for some vengeance based on the way that the 2021 season ended at the hands of the Utes, then once you throw the Bo Nix health situation into it all, it gets downright crazy.

When you don’t know if the starting quarterback, and arguably the best player on the field, is going to play or not, it gets pretty tough to predict the outcome. At Ducks Wire, we tried our best to still touch on what type of game we are going to see play out, and how the Ducks may fare.

To help preview all of the action, Ducks Wire writers Zachary Neel, Don Smalley, and Andy Patton gathered to make predictions and offer opinions on what we might see.

Here is your eleventh Ducks Wire Roundtable of the 2022 season. Enjoy.

The Washington Loss

Question: For starters, I want to revisit the game against Washington last week and put a bow on things. What do you think was your No. 1 takeaway from the loss?

Zachary Neel (Follow @ZacharyCNeel)

I think it’s time to stop making excuses for this defense. They’ve been consistently bad for most of the season, and if something doesn’t change soon then I think that Oregon has as high of a ceiling as we think. The tape is now out on how you can defeat the Ducks.

Don Smalley (Follow @Donald_Smalley)

Lanning learned a valuable lesson that when you’re playing a very good team, but you still have more talent, it’s best to play it straight up and let the talent take over and trust it. With the onside kick and the fourth and 1 with an inexperienced quarterback in there, it’s best not to take chances. I know the defense was struggling, but at some point you have to put trust in your players to give them confidence. It’s unfortunate it cost Oregon a game. We’ll see if they learn from it.

Andy Patton (Follow @AndyPattonPNW)

Oregon’s defense has been a bit suspect all year long, and it was finally clear last Saturday that they can be exposed against high level offenses. Bo Nix and the offense can only carry them so far.

The Bo Nix Disparity

Question:  Looking ahead to Utah, there seem to be two realistic outcomes for this game: one where Bo Nix plays, and one where Bo Nix doesn’t play. How big of a disparity do you think there is between those two scenarios?

Zachary Neel (Follow @ZacharyCNeel)

Honestly, I think it’s the difference between a win and a loss for the Ducks. All due respect to Ty Thompson, I just haven’t seen anything from him during his time in Eugene that gives me confidence that he can beat Utah. Even if Nix plays, it’s still going to be an incredibly tough game to win.

Don Smalley (Follow @Donald_Smalley)

Huge. With Bo Nix, Oregon most likely wins this game. But without him, the Ducks might get stomped and it could get ugly. It seems as if Utah takes extra pride in beating Oregon. Ty Thompson still has shown nothing and is pretty much incapable of moving the ball. I don’t see a week of practicing with the ones changing that.

Andy Patton (Follow @AndyPattonPNW)

I have been surprised to see the lines only about six points apart, because to me the difference is significant. It’s hard to know exactly just because we haven’t seen much of Ty Thompson, but I would think there is at least a 10-14 point swing between a healthy Bo Nix and a healthy Ty Thompson, especially against a good defense like Utah.

Utah Injuries

Question:  Utah has seen some significant season-ending injuries this year, losing both TE Brandon Keith and DL Van Fillinger. Which do you think is going to be a more impactful loss for this game?

Zachary Neel (Follow @ZacharyCNeel)

With Oregon’s current injuries on the offensive line — we don’t know if Alex Forsyth or Ryan Walk will play — I think the fact that Utah is without Fillinger is pretty impactful.

Don Smalley (Follow @Donald_Smalley)

Having one less offensive weapon at Cam Rising’s disposal can only help the Ducks. The Oregon defense needs all the help it can get right now. I think the Ducks will be able to run the ball on Utah whether Fillinger was in there or not.

Andy Patton (Follow @AndyPattonPNW)

I think they’ll miss Fillinger quite a bit in this one. Oregon has an elite offensive line and – particularly if Thompson is under center – they are going to try to move the chains on the ground a lot. Fillinger would help make that more of a challenge, were he healthy.

Offensive Weapons

Question:  Let’s assume for a second that Bo Nix will be the starting QB. Oregon has several offensive weapons at their disposal. Take Troy Franklin out of the question — who has the biggest impact on this game?

Zachary Neel (Follow @ZacharyCNeel)

I think it has to be one of the running backs, and based on what we’ve seen so far my bet is on Bucky Irving. Whether Nix plays or not, I think that Oregon is going to try and game manage quite a bit and keep the scoring to a minimum, which will make it key to grind out the clock and keep the ball on the ground.

Don Smalley (Follow @Donald_Smalley)

Even if Nix is playing, he won’t be at 100 percent. Oregon is going to need a big game from Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington to take some pressure off of Nix and not have to rely solely on his arm. If those two have a similar game as they did against the Huskies, Oregon will be fine.

Andy Patton (Follow @AndyPattonPNW)

I still lean toward Bucky Irving having a huge game behind Oregon’s OL, regardless of who is under center. Having Nix likely opens up the running lanes a bit more, as Utah won’t be as keen to pack the box, but regardless I think Irving will have a nice night on Saturday.

2021 Memories

Question:  This isn’t a rivalry game, per say, but after the way that the 2021 season ended for Oregon, with a pair of blowout losses to Utah, you can bet that a lot of players are out for vengeance. How big of a factor do you think that will be this week?

Zachary Neel (Follow @ZacharyCNeel)

There was a lot of turnover on this roster and coaching staff from last year to this year, so I don’t think it will play as big of a role as it does for fans, but you can be sure that guys like Noah Sewell, DJ Johnson, and that entire offensive line, among others, are going to be out for some vengeance here.

Don Smalley (Follow @Donald_Smalley)

I think it’ll be a factor for sure. It’s unusual to play the same team twice in a season, let alone lose both. It’ll be on the minds of some of those players and will definitely be on the mind of every single fan inside Autzen.

Andy Patton (Follow @AndyPattonPNW)

Hopefully not too much, in the sense that turning up the emotion did not seem to help this team against Washington. Treating it like any other game might be the move, although that no doubt will be difficult for players who still feel the sting of those two losses.

Place Your Bets

Question: Place your bet! It’s obviously a weird week with the rapidly moving betting lines, but if I gave you $100 to wager on the spread (Utah -1.5, Oregon +1.5), the over/under (61.5) or the money line (Oregon +100, Utah -120) where are you putting your money?

Zachary Neel (Follow @ZacharyCNeel)

On the off-chance that Nix plays, I want to have my bases covered and throw $25 on the Oregon moneyline (+100). However, I will be taking the rest of the cash and putting it on the UNDER, because I think this will be a low-scoring affair where a lot of the work is done on the ground.

Don Smalley (Follow @Donald_Smalley)

I think Kris Hutson spilled the beans and I don’t think Nix is playing. I hope he’s wrong. Assuming Nix is out, I’d put $10 on Utah to cover and the rest on the UNDER.

Andy Patton (Follow @AndyPattonPNW)

At this point, without knowing Nix’s health, it’s obviously really difficult. I think Oregon will have a hard time winning this one regardless of Nix’s health, so I’m inclined to put all $100 on Utah (-120). It’s a risk, but so is betting without all the necessary info!

Final Score Prediction (Two-Parter)

Question:  2-part final score prediction. Who wins this game if Bo Nix plays, and who wins if Ty Thompson plays? (Please give scores for both)

Zachary Neel (Follow @ZacharyCNeel)

With Nix: Oregon 30, Utah 28. Without Nix: Utah 33, Oregon 17

Don Smalley (Follow @Donald_Smalley)

With Nix: Oregon 24, Utah 21. Without Nix: Utah 35, Oregon 7

Andy Patton (Follow @AndyPattonPNW)

With Nix: Utah 32, Oregon 28. Without Nix: Utah 39, Oregon 25

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire