The no. 15 Utah Utes will look to win their second straight Pac-12 game when they pay a visit to the Oregon State Beavers this weekend. Game time is set for 8:00 EST on Saturday, October 12 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon. Fans can find the game on the Pac-12 Network.
Oddsmakers list Utah as 14.5-point road favorites, slightly up from earlier in the week. The over/under for the game is set at 59.5 points. You can check out a full list of this week’s college football betting odds.
The Utes saw their Pac-12 title hopes take a hit a couple of weeks ago when they lost to USC. However, they quickly got back on track last week with a 38-13 win over Washington State to move to 4-1 overall. The loss to USC will likely keep them from the College Football Playoff conversation. But the Utes are very much alive to repeat as Pac-12 South champs and return to the conference title game. They may need a little help, but Utah will be in good shape if they can keep winning.
Saturday’s trip to Corvallis feels like it could be a trap game. The Utes have far more challenging games on the horizon against the likes of Arizona, Cal, and Washington. But they should know that a second conference loss could be devastating to their conference title hopes.
Meanwhile, Oregon State is coming off their second win of the season, knocking off UCLA on the road 48-31. That win came one week after the Beavers nearly stunned Stanford, erasing a 21-0 deficit but losing on a last-second field goal. Despite the loss, OSU has played better since the start of conference play after losing to Oklahoma State and Hawaii to begin the season.
Unfortunately, Oregon State needs four wins in their final seven games if they want to reach their first bowl game since 2013. That won’t be easy with three games left against ranked teams, starting with this week’s game with Utah. If the Beavers are going to reach a bowl game, they’ll probably need to pull off an upset.
The Beavers are also looking to snap a three-game losing streak at the hands of Utah. OSU doesn’t have a win over the Utes since 2013. Utah beat Oregon State in three successive years from 2014 to 2016, although the two teams haven’t played each other since a 19-14 win in Corvallis for Kyle Whittingham and the Utes in 2016
I’m tempted to give Oregon State a chance in this game. The Beavers look like they’ve made real progress this season and might be able to hang with the Utes for a little while, especially at home. This also looks like a classic trap game for Utah. However, the Utes are still one of the elite teams in the Pac-12 and they won’t take anything for granted with a loss already on their record. I’ll trust Utah to be at their best and cover the 14.5-point spread.
I’ll admit that the Oregon State offense has been impressive this year, scoring at least 28 points in every game. Jake Luton has tossed 14 touchdown passes without throwing an interception over the first five games of the season. Running back Artavis Pierce has also shined, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. But I can’t help but think that part of that success is playing weak defensive teams like Oklahoma State, Hawaii, and UCLA. Keep in mind the Beavers were shut out in the first half against Stanford before finding a rhythm late, which means good defensive teams can slow them down.
In the Pac-12, it still doesn’t get much better than the Utah defense. The Utes had a bit of an off day when they visited USC and may have been thrown off by facing a backup quarterback they didn’t prepare to play. But they clamped down on the typically potent Washington State offense last week, keeping the Cougars to just 13 points. A performance like that is a good reminder of the talent on Utah’s defense and how they’re capable of overpowering a team like Oregon State that’s rebuilding and has certain limitations.
Meanwhile, I remain unimpressed by the Oregon State defense. They’ve allowed at least 31 points against the four FBS teams they’ve faced this season. Even at home, they’ll have trouble holding down the Utah offense for four quarters. The Utes are hopeful that running back Zack Moss will be able to return this week, giving the Utah offense one of the best running backs in the Pac-12. Despite Moss sitting out last week, Utah racked up over 500 yards of offense against Washington State behind dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley. A quarterback with his skill set could be too much for the Oregon State defense, as the Washington State defense found out last week.
Unless the Utah defense has another bad game on the road, the Utes should ultimately run away with this game. While I acknowledge that Oregon State has improved from the past couple of years, there is still a huge gap between the Beavers and the Utes. Oregon State will stay close in the first half, but the Utes will pull away and cover the spread in the second half.