Monday, December 5, 2022
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CFB Preview: PAC-12 Championship

UTAH UTES EGON (10-2, 7-2) vs #17 UTAH (9-3, 8-1)
Fri., Dec. 3 • 5:00 pm PT • ABC

OREGON: Finished the regular season with a 38-29 win over their in-state rival Oregon State. QB Anthony Brown was 23-28 against the Beavers for a career-best completion percentage of 82.1, throwing for 275 yards and 2 scores while adding 83 yards on the ground with another touchdown. RB Travis Dye had 99 rushing yards and 2 scores in that game, surpassing 1,000 yards in a season for the first time in his career. Dye has 16 total touchdowns this season including 13 in the last 7 games since CJ Verdell suffered a season-ending injury. Oregon was 10-13 on 3rd down against Oregon State and have converted 63.5% (47-74) over the last 6 games. DE Kayvon Thibodeaux leads Oregon with 6.0 sacks and 11.0 TFL despite missing 2 and half games this season. Thibodeaux set the Pac-12 Championship Game record with 2.5 sacks in the 2019 game against Utah. LB Noah Sewell needs 6 tackles to become the first Duck to reach 100 in a season since Troy Dye in 2018. Oregon’s defense held the Beavers to 85 yards on the ground last week after OSU had rushed for over 200 yards in 9 of the previous 10 games. A victory would give the Ducks 11 wins in a season for the 8th time
in program history and the 2nd time under Mario Cristobal. Oregon has had 43 different players start a game this season, including 14 players who made their first career start this season.

UTAH: Finished the regular season with a 28-13 win over Colorado, winning 8 of their last 9 games since making Cameron Rising the  starting quarterback. Rising threw for 3 scores against the Utes to match his season high and has been sacked only 4 times this season. RB Tavion Thomas needs 22 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and has 573 rushing yards and 12 rush TD over his last 4 games. Thomas’ 18 rushing TD this season are the most in a season in program history. The Utes are averaging 275.6 rush YPG over the last 5 games and have topped 200 yards 6 times this season. WR Britain Covey has 176 career receptions, 3rd most in school history. Utah’s defense is 16th in FBS with just 323.2 total YPG allowed while being ranked in the Top 25 in both run defense and pass defense. LB Devin Lloyd has 22.0 TFL this season, the 2nd most in FBS. Safety Brandon McKinney will be playing in his 2nd Pac-12 Championship game, having played for Washington against Utah in the 2018 game. A win would Utah their fifth 10-win season under Kyle Whittingham and their win over the Ducks 2 weeks ago made Whittingham the winningest coach in program history.

 

OREGON DUCKS NOTES

THE MATCHUP

#10 OREGON DUCKS (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
CFP/AP/Coaches Rank: 10/10/10
Head Coach: Mario Cristobal (Miami, 1993)
Record at Oregon: 35-12 (4th Season)
Career Record: 62-59 (10th Season)

#17 UTAH UTES (9-3, 8-1 Pac-12)
CFP/AP/Coaches Rank: 17/14/17
Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham (BYU, 1984)
Record at Utah: 143-69 (17th Season)
Career Record: Sam

 

TALKING POINTS

AT A GLANCE
No. 10 Oregon will play for its third straight conference title on Friday against No. 17 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The Ducks are the first team in the league to reach three straight championship games, clinching the Pac-12 North Division last weekend with a big home win over rival Oregon State. The Ducks get a chance to redeem themselves against the Utes after suffering their second loss of the season on Nov. 20 in Salt Lake City.

PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
» UO is making its Pac-12-leading fifth appearance in the conference championship game since it was added in 2011.
» Oregon is 4-0 all-time in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
» Beat UCLA, 49-31, in the inaugural title game in 2011.
» Defeated Arizona, 51-13, in 2014.
» Reached the Rose Bowl with a 37-15 win over Utah in 2019.
» Beat USC, 31-24, in 2020 to repeat as Pac-12 champions.

KINGS OF THE NORTH
The Ducks clinched the Pac-12 North Division title last Saturday with a 38-29 win over Oregon State, jumping out to a 24-3 lead at halftime. Oregon was led by ANTHONY BROWN, who completed a career-best 82.1 percent of his passes (23- of-28) for 275 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 83 yards and a score. Thirteen of Brown’s 23 completions went to the emerging duo of DEVON WILLAMS and KRIS HUTSON, with Williams catching six passes for 110 yards and a TD while Hutson made a career-high seven catches for 82 yards and his first career score. TRAVIS DYE surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the season while going for 99 yards and two touchdowns, and Oregon’s defense set the tone early with just three points and 114 yards allowed in the first half.

A WIN WOULD…
» Give the Ducks their third straight Pac-12 Championship, and fifth in program history.

» Improve Oregon to 5-0 in Pac-12 Championship Games.

» Clinch a Rose Bowl bid for the second time in three years.

» Secure an 11-win season for the eighth time in program history, and second under head coach MARIO CRISTOBAL

 

TEAM NOTES

ELITE COMPANY
Oregon is the only Power 5 team – and one of just three nationally – to have made its conference championship game in each of the last three seasons. The Ducks join Cincinnati and Louisiana as the only three teams in the FBS to reach a league title game in each season since 2019. With a win against Utah, Oregon could become the only team in the nation to win its conference championship in each of the last three seasons.

LEADERS OF THE PAC
Since the inception of the Pac-12 Championship Game following the expansion of the league in 2011, Oregon owns the most conference titles with four. The Ducks are 4-0 in their Pac-12 title game appearances, winning the last two league title games after beating Utah, 37-15, in 2019 and USC, 31-24 in 2020. This year marks Oregon’s fifth appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the most among all teams in the conference.

Oregon holds a number of significant Pac-12 Championship Game team records…
» Most points – 51 vs. Arizona (2014)
» Margin of victory – 38 vs. Arizona (2014)
» Total offense – 627 vs. Arizona (2014)
» Rushing offense – 352 vs. UCLA (2011)
» Passing offense – 326 vs. Arizona (2014)

DUCKS IN THE CFP RANKINGS
» One of two Pac-12 teams in the CFP top 25 (No. 17 Utah).
» Fifth straight CFP top-25 ranking and 25th in program history.
» Fourth top-10 ranking this season and 15th all-time.
» Ranked as high as No. 3 this season (Weeks 11 & 12).

WINNING THE TURNOVER BATTLE
Oregon has been one of the best teams in the FBS when it comes to winning the turnover battle, sitting in a tie for the Pac12 lead, and  13th nationally, with a plus-10 turnover margin. The Ducks are 23rd nationally and second in the Pac-12 with 21 takeaways while the 11 turnovers lost are tied for 17th in the FBS and third in the conference. Oregon has won each of the six games in which it has won the turnover battle.

NEXT MAN UP
All season, Oregon’s depth has been put to the test as the Ducks dealt with injuries to a number of starters and key contributors. Oregon has had 43 different players start games, including 14 who have made their first career starts this year (5 offense, 9 defense). Just six Ducks have started all 12 games this season, while UO has used a different starting unit in all 12 games on offense and 11 different groups on defense.

FRESH FACES
Oregon has played 19 members of its highly-touted 2021 recruiting class in the first 10 games. Additionally, seven true freshmen have earned a start this year (TERRANCE FERGUSON, KEITH BROWN, JACKSON POWERS-JOHNSON, JEFFREY BASSA, TROY FRANKLIN, MOLIKI MATAVAO, DONT’E THORNTON). The Ducks have played 40 total freshmen. True freshmen to play in 2021: Jeffrey Bassa, Isaiah Brevard, Keith Brown, Brandon Buckner, Byron Cardwell, Daymon David, Jaylin Davies, Avante Dickerson, Terrance Ferguson, Troy Franklin, Moliki Matavao, Seven McGee, Jabril McNeill, Jackson Powers-Johnson, Kingsley Suamataia, Ty Thompson, Dont’e Thornton, Terrell Tilmon and Keanu Williams.

 

UTAH UTES NOTES

THE GAME
The No. 14 University of Utah Football team is set for the 2021 Pac-12 Championship game on Friday, Dec. 3, taking on the No. 10 Oregon Ducks for the second time in two weeks. The game will kick off at 6 p.m. MT on ABC.

ON ABC!
Utah will play on ABC for the second time this season against the Ducks, also earning a primetime slot on Nov. 20 when the Utes beat Oregon 38-7. Utah is 17-7-1 all-time when playing on ABC.

NUMBERS TALK
• With a win, Utah would earn its 10th victory of the season. Utah has had five 10+ win seasons under Kyle Whittingham.

• With a win, Utah would win its first Pac-12 Championship game. This will be Utah’s third appearance in the championship game since joining the conference.

• Utah has won a share of the Pac-12 South Title in three of the last four seasons, and four times overall (2015, 2018, 2019, 2021).

• Utah has averaged 218.2 rushing yards per game in the last six games, while holding opponents to just 119.5 yards on the ground.

• Utah is one of six Power Five programs (only Pac-12 team) that is ranked in the top 30 in the FBS in scoring offense and scoring defense.

QUICK HITS
• Utah is 53-42 in Pac-12 Conference play and 129-164-6 all-time against Pac-12 opponents. Utah has won 19 of its last 22 conference games (.863).

• Head coach Kyle Whittingham became Utah’s all-time wins leader with Utah’s 38-7 win over No. 3 Oregon on Nov. 20. He is 143-69 during his time at Utah.

• Utah has appeared in the College Football Playoff rankings 33 times, which is tied for seventh in the FBS (first among Pac-12 teams).

• In Pac-12 games only, Utah leads the conference in scoring offense (37.2), touchdowns scored (45), total offense per game (454.89), rushing offense (240.78) and passing efficiency (145.7).

• Utah’s defense ranks fourth in the FBS in tackles for loss per game (7.6) and is 12th in team sacks (3.17).

• Utah was only converting on 37-percent of its third down attempts through the first six games, now ranking eighth in the FBS by converting on 49-percent of its attempts.

• Utah has eight consecutive years of winning seasons, dating back to 2014 and has finished with a winning season in 15 of Kyle Whittingham’s 17 years as head coach. • Utah has sold out Rice-Eccles Stadium in 70 consecutive games, dating back to the 2010 season opener. Utah increased its stadium capacity from 45,807 to 51,444 with the expansion of the Ken Garff Red Zone in 2021, averaging 51,817 fans this season.

• Utah was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South Division with the Utes leading all teams with five first-team preseason All-Pac-12 picks (Nick Ford, OL; Devin Lloyd, LB; Mika Tafua, DE; Jadon Redding, PK; Britain Covey, RS).

HEAD COACH KYLE WHITTINGHAM
Record at Utah: 143-69 (17th year)
Career Record: Same
Bowl Win %: 78% (11-3)
2008 National Coach of the Year, 2019 AFCA Region Coach of the Year,
2019 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, 2019 Dodd Trophy Award Winner
Overall Year at Utah: 28th (1994-2004, Asst; 2005-present HC)
Total Wins at Utah (Asst. & HC): 228 (most in school history)
Alma Mater: BYU (1984, bachelor’s; 1987 master’s)

• Kyle Whittingham, the longest-tenured coach in the Pac-12 Conference and the second-longest tenured head coach at the same school in the NCAA FBS, is in his 17th season at the helm at Utah, where he boasts a 143-69 record as the all-time wins leader. Including 11 seasons as a Ute assistant coach, he has contributed to more victories (228) than any coach in program history.

• His many accomplishments include National Coach of the Year recognition in 2008 by the AFCA—when Utah was declared the national champion by an NCAA major selector while finishing No. 2 in the Associated Press poll—and the 2018 Pac-12 South Division title. He also earned 2019 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, 2019 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year, 2019 Dodd Trophy Award winner and was a finalist for the AFCA National Coach of the Year and Bear Bryant Award.

• Legendary for his postseason success, his 11 bowl wins (11-3) ties him for second among active coaches and ranks in the top-10 all-time (including ties). His glossy bowl record includes a 2-0 mark in College Football Playoff New Year’s Six bowls, with wins over Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl as co-head coach and Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

• The Utes appeared in every weekly CFP ranking for the first three years of the system (2014-16) and have tied for the seventh-most appearances of any school with 33 total. Utah has finished in the CFP top-25 in five seasons: No. 22 in 2014 and 2015, No. 19 in 2016, No. 17 in 2018 and No. 11 in 2019. The Utes have made the final AP top-25 six times and the final Coaches’ poll seven times under Whittingham. Their AP top-25 finishes were No. 2 (2008), No. 18 (2009), No. 21 (2014), No. 17 (2015), No. 23 (2016) and No. 16 (2019).

• Individually, Whittingham has had 25 players make All-America teams, including 15 that have made major All-America first teams (those determining the NCAA’s consensus team). They are Luther Elliss (1994, consensus defensive lineman), Eric Weddle (2006, consensus defensive back), Louie Sakoda (2007, punter; 2008, unanimous consensus place kicker), Zane Beadles (2009, offensive line), Shaky Smithson (2010, punt returner), Star Lotulelei (2012, defensive tackle), Reggie Dunn (2012, kick returner), Nate Orchard (2014, defensive end), Kaelin Clay (2014, returner), Tom Hackett (2014, consensus punter; 2015, unanimous consensus punter), Mitch Wishnowsky (2016, unanimous consensus punter), Matt Gay (2017, consensus kicker), Bradlee Anae (2019, consensus defensive end), Julian Blackmon (2019, safety), Leki Fotu (2019, defensive tackle), Jaylon Johnson (2019, cornerback) and Zack Moss (2019, running back).

• Whittingham’s players have won a total of 93 first-team all-conference awards, including 42 in Utah’s 10 seasons of Pac-12  membership. Utah led the Pac-12 in first-team all-conference players in 2018 with nine selected, and added eight more in 2019. Two of  his players have been three-time first-team All-Pac-12 honorees—Hackett from 2013-15 and Wishnowsky from 2016-18).

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