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KSL Sports Staff Unanimously Picks Utah To Win Pac-12 Title

Brant Kuithe #80 of the Utah Utes runs after a reception against the Oregon Ducks during their game at Rice Eccles Stadium on November 10, 2018 in Salt Lake City , Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The No. 5 ranked University of Utah Utes will play in their second straight Pac-12 Championship game after winning the South Division.

They will face the Oregon Ducks, who finished the regular season with a 10-2 overall record and 8-1 in Pac-12 play. The Utes have won their last eight games and are 11-1 overall and 8-1 in conference play.

The KSL Sports team made their predictions for the conference championship showdown at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Jeremiah Jensen, SportsBeat

The matchup to watch in this game will be Oregon’s offensive line vs. Utah’s defensive front. Both are arguably the best in the country. I give Utah the edge in that matchup and expect them to put pressure on Justin Herbert all night. Rain and wind will arrive in time for kickoff which should make for sloppy field conditions. Every possession will matter and forcing turnovers will be key. I give the Utes the edge when it comes to ball control and forcing turnovers as well. The Utes will win  in a low scoring close game to claim their first Pac-12 Championship.

Prediction: Utah 20 Oregon 13

Sam Farnsworth, SportsBeat

Will the Utes win the Pac-12 Championship game on Friday night against Oregon? Yes.

For Utah to beat Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship game they will need that impenetrable defense that has led this team all season long. Oregon comes into the game with two different running backs (C.J. Verdell and Travis Dye) that average six yards per carry for a combined 1,605 yards rushing this season. But the Utes who give up just 56.3 yards per game will once again hold an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing in a game. The Utes will need to win the turnover battle because the Ducks don’t give it away that often. Quarterback Justin Herbert has just five interceptions thrown all year and the Ducks have only lost five fumbles which ranks them 4th in the nation in fewest turnovers. If the Utes pass rush led by Bradlee Anae can cause Herbert to make some bad decisions and Julian Blackmon, Jaylon Johnson and company can take advantage of that the Utes will be in good shape. The outcome of the game may not impress the College Football Playoff committee much but I think the Utes will squeeze out a low scoring win 23-17. Do the Utes deserve a playoff spot? Yes. But the Rose Bowl is still a pretty good consolation.

Prediction: Utah 23 Oregon 17

Tom Hackett, Special Forces Gang Podcast

The weather is going to play a big factor in this game. Torrential rain and high winds are expected to hit Santa Clara on Friday morning. Fortunately, Utah has participated in a number of bad weather games this season and should give Utah the advantage heading into the blockbuster on Friday evening. The game, however, will be won and/or lost on the line of scrimmage, (I know, it is cliché, but true) specifically when Utah’s defensive line, who some think is the best in the nation, goes up against Oregon’s offensive line, who some also think is the best in the country.

By the time it is all said and done, I believe Utah will win this game by at least two touchdowns. Zack Moss will win the game ball and the defense will suffocate anything and everything the Ducks will try to do offensively. I do not think Utah will generate much pressure on Justin Herbert, however, I think Herbert makes a number of mistakes because of how Utah is able to disguise their defensive packages pre-snap.

Prediction: Utah 21 Oregon 3

Alex Kirry, KSL Unrivaled

Before you get all caught up in the argument of whether or not the Utes should be in the CFP, how about you go ahead and make sure they can win a Pac-12 Championship that they’ve never won. No biggie. The good news is, this Utah team is a true No. 5 team in the country. They are the Mary Poppins of the conference, practically perfect in every way but we’ll see if their bag is deep enough to pull a giant win out of it.

Prediction: Utah 27 Oregon 13

Scott Mitchell, KSL Unrivaled

This will be an ugly, rainy, windy mess that Utah will win because of its experience. It will be close early and Utah will pull away late.

Prediction: Utah 31 Oregon 17

Trevor Allen, Crimson Corner Podcast

Utah has been able to fluster good quarterbacks this season, like Jacob Eason from Washington. But, the Huskies’ offensive line isn’t nearly as talented as Oregon’s. It will be a battle for four quarters but Utah’s defense is elite and elite defenses win championships. The defensive line will do what they have done all season, dominate the line of scrimmage.

Prediction: Utah 28 Oregon 14

Matt Glade, The Scotsman Podcast

Utah’s defense and the rain will slow down the Ducks. Zack Moss will run for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Prediction: Utah 28 Oregon 20

Zak Hicken, SportsBeat Afterhours Podcast

The outcome of this game was determined on January 7, 2019. That’s the day Zack Moss, Bradlee Anae, Leki Fotu, and Julian Blackmon announced they would return for their final season at the University of Utah. They’ve lived up to, and have even outperformed the expectations many of us had for this year, and that was a Pac-12 Championship.
That won’t change against Oregon.
The Utes’ defense is suffocating, debilitating, and dominant. They’ll get their toughest match-up of the season against Oregon, but Utah’s physicality in the trenches will limit what the Ducks can do in the ground game. The secondary is the best in school history, led by Jaylon Johnson the Utes’ play air traffic control and Levi Stadium is a no-fly-zone; it’ll show when they’re picking off Ducks left and right like it’s the 1985.
Equally as dominant is the Utes’ offense. The Utes will control the clock, dominate the trenches, and wear down the Oregon defense. It will be the toughest challenge the Utes face since their road win against Washington, but this team is on a crash-course collision for the College Football Playoff and with one last chance to show the playoff committee they belong, they won’t be stopped.

Prediction: Utah 31 Oregon 14

Kyle Ireland, Digital Sports Producer

The key to the PAC-12 title game is zero turnovers. With some precipitation in the forecast, I expect to see a heavy dose of Zack Moss for Utah. I think Utah will run the ball effectively against Oregon and shouldn’t have to rely on Tyler Huntley’s arm to “Win The Day” against the Ducks. If the Utes can protect the football offensively, I think their defense holds the Ducks to a couple of touchdowns.

Prediction: Utah 21, Oregon 17

Nate Dowdle, KSL Sports Director

Everyone is going to want to focus on Utah’s defensive line vs. Oregon’s touted offensive line. I’m more interested to see which Justin Herbert plays in this game. Will we see the Justin Herbert that threw two picks against Arizona State, or will we see the Justin Herbert that carved up USC for three touchdowns? The wind will howl and the rain will come down, which gives Utah an edge in the secondary, but can Utah’s defensive backfield keep up with guys like Juwan Johnson and Mycah Pittman? I expect a sloppy game, with one or two big plays deciding the outcome.

Prediction: Utah 24 Oregon 13

Jeremy Mauss, KSL’s Unrivaled Producer

Oregon has been trending in the wrong direction during its past two games. If that Oregon offense has another poor showing this will lead to a field day for the Utah defense and could potentially lead to the Utes having its third shutout of the year.

Utah also has more ways to get the win compared to Oregon, specifically on offense by having the best running back in Zack Moss and arguably the best quarterback with Tyler Huntley in play Friday night. Defensively, the Utes also have the best player out there in Bradlee Anae. Having the best players on the field is why the Utes will win this game. Overall, the Ducks defense is going to be the best Utah has seen all year but Oregon also has not seen an offense as good or diverse as the Utes.

Prediction: Utah 28, Oregon 10

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The game will kickoff on Friday at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ABC.