Utah running game - There is no doubt that running back Brandon Warfield is one of the nation's finest. He has already amassed 526 yards on the ground and averages 131.5 yards per game, which is fifth in the nation. For the Utes to win they must win this area, and do so convincingly, especially in the red zone.
Oregon's defense is only giving up 59.2 yards per game on the ground, but a lot of that is due to getting sacks which go against the rushing total of an opponent. Look for the Ducks to stack the line of scrimmage and try to negate Warfield from the outset. EVEN
Utah Passing Game - Time to put up or shut up for wide receiver Paris Warren. He had better produce and produce big after some not so friendly comments towards the Oregon coaching staff, head coach Mike Belloti in particular.
Alex Smith will be under a lot of pressure from the Ducks' fast defense, and will see a plethora of blitzes all night long. Will he be able to deliver under pressure? Look for some big plays both ways, but the presence of Warren should give the Utes an edge against a still somewhat young Oregon secondary. Oregon's lack of a true standout at cornerback is something Utah should be able to exploit. UTAH
Oregon Running Game - Oregon uses three tailbacks: Terrence Whitehead, Chris Vincent and Ryan Shaw. Whitehead and Vincent are both averaging less than four yards per carry, and only four touchdowns between them so far this year. Shaw has the best average per carry at a modest 4.2 per clip.
The Utes run defense has been solid this year, although unspectacular. The Utes are surrendering 130.3 yards per contest, but have been opportunistic with fumble recoveries, evidenced by the 80 yard return for the game winning score last week in Fort Collins. EVEN
Oregon Passing Game - This is where Oregon can be frightful to defend, or, they can be ‘frightful' to themselves. The two quarterback system of Kellen Clemens and Jason Fife has produced 12 touchdowns through the air, but also given up 7 interceptions, all last week in a horrendous 55-16 loss to rival Washington State at home.
The wide receiver duo of Sammie Parker and Demetrius Williams has been lethal thus far this season. They have combined for 54 receptions, 953 yards and nine touchdowns to date. They have speed and will test the Utah secondary all night long with screens, quick slants, go routes, you name it – Parker and Williams can do it.
Utah's secondary is quite simply not a dominant unit; and in fact vulnerable against a good passing attack, let alone one like Oregon which possesses the big-play ability with Parker and Williams. Look for the Ducks to roll up some huge passing numbers. Oregon has an opportunity to dominate in this category.OREGON
Intangibles - It is a home game live on ESPN2; so you know that the Ute fans will be going crazy. It is a sellout and the atmosphere will be electric. That's the good news. The bad news is that Oregon is coming off of an embarrassing loss to Washington State and will be looking for some revenge to prove they are for real. If the Ducks survive the initial five minutes without any major catastrophes the Ducks should gain momentum. OREGON
Prediction - I expect this to be a fairly close game but, the Ducks have more talent virtually across the board and the timing could not be worse for the Utes in playing the Ducks. The telling factor will be whether or not the Utes can come up with no less than four turnovers to slow down the Ducks passing attack, and whether or not Warfield can keep the chains moving and eating up the clock.
OREGON 27 UTAH 17