Utah wide receiver Demari Simpkins (3) runs back a 66 yard punt return in the second half during an NCAA college football game against Colorado Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Utah wide receiver Demari Simpkins (3) runs back a 66 yard punt return in the second half during an NCAA college football game against Colorado Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)|Associated Press
NCAAF

Pac12 Championship Game: Madwed picks Utah vs Oregon

Game time is Friday at 8 pm ET.

Jesse Madwed

Jesse Madwed

Pac-12 Championship Game

(5) Utah -6.5 over (13) Oregon, Santa Clara, CA, Friday, 8 PM EST

The Pac-12 Championship Game doesn’t have quite the cache that was predicted before Oregon lost to Arizona State a few weeks ago. Utah has a great chance to make the playoff with a win and a little help from other teams, but Oregon’s playoff ambitions are completely dead. Still, this is the first Pac-12 Championship game with real playoff implications since 2016. Both the Ducks and Utes finished 8-1 in conference. However, Utah has been winning in a much more impressive fashion. A close win at Washington aside, the Utes have won by an average of 32.4 points per game since their loss to USC. The Ducks have played with fire far more often. They had narrow wins over Cal, Washington and Washington State. Their defense has shown cracks down the stretch, giving up 24 or more points in four of their last 6 games. Simply put, the Utes have been firing on all cylinders while Oregon shows inconsistency.

While Oregon and Utah have similarly productive passing attacks, Utah has a nearly 35 yard per game advantage on the ground. Utah’s defense led the conference by a wide margin in both passing yards and rushing yards against per game. The fact that Oregon is third in the former and the latter shouldn’t fool you into thinking they are on the same level. I see Zack Moss and Tyler Huntley leading a balanced offensive attack and Justin Herbert continuing to perform below his high expectations. I believe Utah will win convincingly, covering the spread, and head into Sunday morning with high hopes of getting that coveted fourth College Football Playoff Spot.

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