The Daily Sweat: Oregon gets a second chance against Utah in the Pac-12 title game

·5 min read

Can Oregon give Utah a game this time?

The No. 10 Ducks suffered their second loss of the season at No. 17 Utah on Nov. 20. And it wasn’t even close. Utah jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead on the way to a 38-7 win that knocked Oregon out of playoff contention.

That win clinched the Pac-12 South for Utah. And now the two teams meet again on Friday night in Las Vegas with the conference title and a likely trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.

Utah is currently favored by 2.5 points at BetMGM. Like Oregon, Utah is 5-7 against the spread this year. Eight Utah games have gone over this season while six Oregon games have gone under and six have gone over. The total for Friday night is 57.5.

The Utes beat Oregon badly in Utah two weeks ago and held the Ducks to under 300 total yards. Oregon couldn’t get its run game going and had nothing going in the passing game either. Anthony Brown threw for 231 yards on 35 pass attempts and completed less than 50% of those throws.

Utah, meanwhile, leaned on a formula that’s been working for most of the season. The Utes have been averaging 35 points per game by averaging over five yards a carry as a team and then counting on QB Cameron Rising to complete passes when opposing defenses start to account for the run.

RB Tavion Thomas will likely top 1,000 yards for the season Friday night and he’s scored 18 rushing touchdowns. Only four players have scored more TDs on the ground. T.J. Pledger is averaging over seven yards a carry as the change-of-pace back, and Rising has completed 63% of his passes and thrown 17 touchdowns to just three interceptions since taking over the starting job early in the year.

Oregon’s offense is similar. The Ducks run it nearly 40 times per game and throw it fewer than 30 times. Travis Dye has rushed for 1,036 yards and 14 touchdowns while Brown has rushed for over 600 yards and passed for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Oregon’s typically gone as Brown has gone so far this season. If he has a spectacular game, then the Ducks’ chances of covering and winning outright are great. If he struggles as he did in Utah, then Oregon may find itself in the Alamo Bowl.

UTSA an underdog

A week after losing their first game of the season, the UTSA Roadrunners enter the Conference USA title game as 3.5-point underdogs at home.

The Roadrunners were 11-0 entering the final week of the regular season before two special teams turnovers doomed them in a loss to North Texas. Now UTSA is an underdog to a Western Kentucky team that has one of the most explosive offenses in the country and has won seven straight games.

WKU’s offense transformed in the offseason when coach Tyson Helton hired Zach Kittley as the team’s offensive coordinator. Kittley came to WKU from Houston Baptist, and QB Bailey Zappe and three receivers came with him to break in the offense.

Zappe is 401-of-581 passing for 4,968 yards and has thrown for 52 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Jerreth Sterns, another Houston Baptist transfer, has 127 catches for 1,539 yards and 12 touchdowns. WKU throws the ball nearly 50 times per game and rushes it just 25 times a game. The Hilltoppers average 43 points per game.

UTSA puts up 37 points per game with an offense that runs it far more than WKU does. Sincere McCormick has 263 carries for 1,275 yards and 12 TDs while QB Frank Harris has rushed for 484 yards and five touchdowns. Harris has completed two-thirds of his passes and thrown 23 TDs to five interceptions.

UTSA’s defense has allowed just 5.4 yards per play this season, though its strength is more in the run game than the pass. That could be bad news against a pass-dominant team like WKU.

Both teams have been phenomenal against the spread this year. WKU is 9-3 against the spread while UTSA is 8-4. WKU has gone over the total in eight of 14 games this season while UTSA is 6-6. Unsurprisingly, this game has the highest over/under of the weekend at 72.5. Under may be the right play here.

Suns vs. Warriors again

Three days after they played a fantastic game on TNT, the Suns and Warriors meet again on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET. The Warriors are favored by 6.5 points at home as the Suns are playing their second game in as many nights.

The Suns beat the Pistons 114-103 on Thursday night to win a franchise-record 18th game. Phoenix is 19-3 after a 1-3 start and is a half-game ahead of the Warriors in the Western Conference ahead of their big matchup. The two teams meet again on Christmas Day on ABC before not seeing each other until March 30.

Who cashed bets on Thursday?

Under bettors had to sweat a little bit at the end of the Cowboys’ 27-17 win over the Saints, but under 45.5 ultimately came through after the Saints scored the final touchdown of the game. The Cowboys also covered the spread against a shorthanded Saints team that started Taysom Hill at QB.

Memphis Grizzlies bettors also had an easy cover and over on Thursday night. The Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder by 73 points in the biggest victory in NBA history.