Staff Predictions: Utah at Oregon State

The USR staff take their shots at the match-up between the Utes and Beavers

James Cella- Football Analyst
This is a really tough game to call after a big win at UCLA. Typically (in the Pac-12 era) Utah has a let down after a big win, but going into this game, there's a ton of complicating factors. How will Kendal Thompson look against a defense that's prepared for him? Can the receivers/passing game game get out of their current funk? Can the Utes handle Mannion when/if Tevin Carter isn't available to play Thompson and Booker should have a big night on the ground, but to win, Thompson needs to get things going in the air. Dres, Scott, Clay and Patrick need to break out their current slump and turn in at least 200 yards in the air to be successful. I can't remember the last time Utah had a big day in the air on the road. Will Corvallis be different? As for the defense, Cooks may be gone, but Mannion is still here and he's torched Utah before. Believe it or not, I think this secondary is better than last years, even if Carter is on the sidelines. But can they contain a decent passing game that's underperformed this year and looking for a breakout game. In the end, if Utah can put at least 35 on the board, they win. Anything less is a loss. Unless special teams and the defense can generate 14 points, I don't think Utah's offense can get it done.
Oregon St 31 Utah 24

Andre Gorringe-Football Analyst
I’ve had an uneasy feeling about this game. While I do feel like Utah is the better team, I’ve had doubts in my mind that they’ll actually win the game. History tells us that Utah is due for a big letdown, after a monumental win last week. I feel better about this team on the road after a big win @ UCLA and a solid win @ Michigan, but I’m still in the “I need to see it to believe it” camp when it comes to this team. OSU’s strength on offense this year is the run game, and Utah is exceptional against the run. Meanwhile, Utah’s strength on offense is the run and OSU has given up an average of 177 yards and 4.28 YPC over the past two games. I like the combo of Thompson and Booker to be able to mix up the running game from the middle to the outside, and I do believe that Thompson can provide enough in the pass game to lead this team to a win. I’ll take the Utes in this one, but my confidence is shaky. Has this team finally turned the corner? We should know after this game.
Utah 31 OSU 24

Robert Jackson-Managing Editor
Utes will have to face a defense that has had plenty of time to prepare for its zone read offense, led by Kendal Thompson and Devontae Booker. Thompson will be forced to make some throws against one on one coverage, and if he struggles it could be a long day. I do see his elusiveness buying time in the pocket to allow his receivers to create some separation and if there isn’t any safety help over the top, it could make for some big plays in the passing game, if and when they choose to dial it up. Thompson didn’t get too many opportunities to throw vs. UCLA, but was efficient – 10-13 with two of those being drops. Defensively, Utah will have its hands full as it tries to slow down Sean Mannion. Last season against the Utes Mannion threw for 443 yards and five touchdowns. It will be key for Utah to generate an effective pass rush to disrupt the Beaver timing. All that said, special teams could be the difference once again. Andy Phillips wins another close game for the Utes.
Utah 27 Oregon State 24

Jason Jones- Football Analyst
Oregon State's defense is very good and should be able to pressure Utah into situations that UCLA couldn't (didn't ?). Utah wants to be able to give the ball to Booker another 35 times, but I'm not so sure Oregon State will let them do that so easily and Utah will have to produce more than 100 yards passing to win this game. I'm putting a lot of stake into what Christensen and Sitake do on Thursday; I really want to see how they game plan for this one. Christensen needs to put Thompson in good positions to throw the ball, especially short yardages where the ball isn't traveling more than 10 yards down the field. Sitake needs to bring pressure on Mannion from a variety of ways and not rush three guys(I still have nightmares about Mannion sitting in the pocket for hours at a time and picking the secondary apart). Brandin Cooks ain't walking through that door, folks... Utes hold on late to earn their third road win of the year.
Utah 31 Oregon State 26

Doug Kimmel- Mountain Region Recruiting Analyst
I can see this game going either way, but I think the Utes are due for a let down. The Beavers have some solid linebackers and Steven Nelson can cover Dres Anderson one on one. The Beavers will sellout on the run and make Utah beat them through the air. Can Utah do it? I don't know, but my gut tells me no. Oregon State hasn't been very explosive on offense yet this year, but have a solid interior O-line and two solid running backs. I will take the Beavers in a close one.
Oregon State 27 Utah 24

Brian Swinney- Publisher
At the beginning of the season, this looked like one the Utes had to have to go bowling. That doesn't look to be the case anymore, but a win in Corvallis would help keep the dream of a Pac 12 South title alive, while a loss would be crushing. With a week and a half to prepare for Kendal Thompson, the Beavers will do more with it than Thompson does with his week and a half to prepare as they keep him from being effective both throwing and running. The question is how effective Devontae Booker ends up being. Booker will get his yards, over 150 of them again, but too many Utah drives will end with Phillips knocking it through for 3 instead of ending with an extra point. Mannion throws for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns, leading his team on a late drive to setup the game winning field goal with under 30 seconds to play as Oregon State holds serve at home. When it's a coin flip, go with the home team.
Oregon State 24 Utah 23

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