Utah Utes Football vs Oregon: Preview and Prediction

The Utah Utes face the mighty Oregon ducks this weekend and although they will be facing one of the worst total defenses in the Pac12, don’t expect any miracles from Utah in this one. Oregon’s offense is just too good for Utah’s limited, unbalanced attack to keep pace. The only sign of possible light for Utah’s offense is that Oregon is ranked 118th in the country in passing defense which should open up the play book a bit for them. If Dave Christiansen can do to Utah’s passing corps what Todd Graham was able to do with his defensive unit after their embarrassing loss to UCLA early in the season (by spending a lot of one on one time with them to coach them up), maybe the Utes can squeak one out – but the numbers don’t look promising.

Don’t get me wrong, Utah’s defense will show up and play well – they will likely get tons of pressure on Mariota since they have the third smallest O-line in the Pac12 (bigger only than Arizona and UCLA) and limit the rushing attack significantly below season averages. However, regardless of how good the defense, Oregon has proven to be able to get over 250 yards passing in every game they’ve played (except one anomaly against UCLA which dipped just below) and maintain a balanced attack while doing it.

The only thing that may tip the tide on this game is if Utah is able to score points with their offense on the sideline, whether that is a pick six or a kick return for a touchdown, in order to play keep away from the Duck’s offense by grinding down the clock.

Prediction

I’ve run the numbers through my algorithms again and posted my predicted rushing yards, passing yards, and points for each team below. Proud to say that the numbers were fairly accurate when I ran them for the USC game with the most accurate being off by only 8% (USC Passing yards) and least accurate being off by 34% (Utah Rushing yards).

Utah’s Predicted Performance
Utah Rushing Yards 197
Utah Passing Yards 225
Total Yards 421
Predicted Score 30
 
Oregon’s Predicted Performance
Oregon Rushing Yards 182
Oregon Passing Yards 299
Total 481
Predicted Score 34

Bonus Analysis (For the stat gurus)

My algorithms weigh how well Utah’s defense does versus the rankings of the opponents they’ve played versus how well their upcoming opponent’s offense does versus the rankings of the opponents they’ve played (and vice versa). It is worthy to note, however, that if you throw out how well the opponent is doing and only use the equation that predicts how many yards Utah typically gives up on defense, my prediction for how many yards the Utes would give up against USC would have only been off by a total of 9 which is less than 2%. If I hold that constant and only use that equation it would suggest that Oregon will only get 285 yards passing and 143 yards rushing this game. That would skew my prediction on the points that they will score down to 30 points, which essentially makes this game a wash. I’m interested to see if this holds true – stay tuned!

About the author

Jason Hodges

I am a proud Ute alumnus where I graduated with a degree in economics. I currently work in the finance industry but follow Utah football diligently and take a statistical approach to football analysis.