At the beginning of the season, I pegged Utah as a game the Beavers could win, and while the two teams appear to be in very different spots this season, my feelings haven’t changed. And now the Beavers have some great momentum.
Utah appears to be typical Utah this season: Nothing flashy on offense, a very stout defense, and superbly coached. Not surprisingly, they are atop the Pac-12 standings and ranked in the polls.
At the same time, the Utes also feel like a team the Beavers have a good shot at upending if they can dictate the tempo of the game, especially on offense. And here’s what they need to do to walk off Reser with their second straight Pac-12 win!
Don’t Forget About the RB. Poor Utah. Due to injuries, the Utes are down to using their fifth or sixth running back this season. That should play out in the Beavers’ favor, but only if they don’t neglect whomever the ball carrier is. How many times has Beaver Nation watched some obscure player come out of nowhere and put up big numbers? This is a game OSU can win, so they can’t get caught overlooking anyone, no matter if it’s the seventh-string wide receiver.
Establish the Passing Game. Not to sound like a broken record, but the Beavers have to be able to move the ball through the air with some success, because Utah is much stronger against the run than Cal. The Utes will load the box and force Darell Garretson to throw the ball. If he can’t, points could be hard to come by. Even if he can connect on his mid-length passes, it would be huge for the Beavers, and more importantly, keep the Utes honest on defense.
Excel on Special Teams. It’s expected to wet and windy day at Reser. And not lightly, more like blustery, which could limit both teams on offense. As a result, this game could come down to field goals (even though projected 30 MPH winds could make this, tough, too) or a big return. The good news is this is an area the Beavers have shined in so far this season. If the weather does become a factor, the strong play needs to continue.
Make Williams Use His Arm. Utah QB Troy Williams has been a pleasant surprise for Utah so far this season. He’s a good athlete who has made plays with his arm and legs. But if the Beavers can keep him in the pocket exclusively and force him to make good throws, it will help their odds of pulling off an upset. It will also help the defense keep Utah wide receiver Tim Patrick in check more if they don’t have to worry about Williams making something out of a broken play or rolling out.
Play with Swagger. The Beavers are coming off their first Pac-12 in almost two years. They should be confident and come out playing fired up. A fast start could be more than enough for the Beavers against Utah, as the Utes aren’t known for being up-tempo or particularly putting up a lot of points. So, the Beavers should be aggressive and take some chances. Conversely, a sluggish start would be so disheartening. But honestly, I don’t see that happening.
Utah may be 5-1 and ranked 21st, but there’s no reason the Beavers can’t make this a game and pull off the upset. If they can be a little more diverse on offense than last week and shut down Patrick, this should be another fun game!