Devin Kaufusi: Pac-12 Title Game Is The ‘Only Place We Want To Go’

Nov 17, 2022, 8:22 PM
Pac-12 Championship Game...
A general view of the PAC-12 logo at midfield before the PAC-12 Football Championship football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes at Allegiant Stadium on December 03, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah football team can taste the Pac-12 championship. The season has two weeks left and the simple math of it is that if the Utes beat Oregon this week and Colorado next week, they are going to be in the Pac-12 title game with a chance for a repeat appearance in the Rose Bowl.

Facing the Ducks is no small feat as they are No. 12 in the country and are coming off of a loss to rival Washington, so they are hungry to get a win and they also are in the running to get back to the Pac-12 title game.

Utah is in familiar territory as this is nearly the identical scenario as last year and at the same time. Last November, Utah needed to top Oregon to get to the title game and they did it, but this time the game is not at Rice-Eccles Stadium but rather at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.

Utah defensive lineman Devin Kaufusi joined Unrivaled as he does each week. He was asked if there was any extra motivation put toward this huge game against the No. 12 Oregon Ducks.

“Having that Pac-12 championship last year was huge,” Kaufusi said. “You can taste it. We need to win and keep taking that step forward. We even watched a highlight of the Pac-12 [championship game from 2021] showing that it is right here in front of us again. Everyone was loving it, just getting chills, saw the confetti and holding the trophy. The whole season is a marathon but now it is coming down to this final stretch of this game, the next game, and then we are where we want to be.

“Last year was so much fun with the Pac-12 championship,” he added. “Everyone on our team knows what it is about and only one place we want to go. That is to win the championship and to a New Year’s Six bowl.”

Utah has an advantage of being there whereas the Ducks head coach Dan Lanning is in his first go around as a head coach, but Lanning was with Georgia who won the national title. He has been around big games but not as the guy in charge. Utah has hands-on experience with Kyle Whittingham and a good number of players.

What To Expect From Oregon?

The big concern Utah has in this game is Bo Nix and the Oregon quarterback’s play. Nix was banged up and left for part of the game in the Duck’s loss to Washington. Coaches are keeping quiet just giving vague updates as to what his status is for this week’s game against Utah.

Nix has been the biggest difference this year for Oregon and what makes them more of a threat than last year when they had Anthony Brown under center.

“It all comes down to their quarterback. We also talk about defense but today’s game is a quarterback world. They make the big bucks because they make all the plays, and Bo Nix is their difference maker this year,” he said. “It’s been the Bo Nix show over there. Their offensive line has allowed about two sacks all season. He makes plays to get out of those sacks as an athlete. The main difference is Bo Nix 100%.”

With Nix’s availability in this game, the Utes are now a small favorite over Oregon despite it being in Euguene, and that is how much their starting quarterback means to Oregon.

Utah still can’t take the Ducks lightly as it is not just one player that makes or breaks this team. Taking a step off the gas for preparation is not the best idea if the Utes want to get back to another Pac-12 title game.

Prepare as if Nix and the whole team are healthy and then there will be few, if any, surprises for the late night kick-off with title game implications on the line.

Tune into Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 3-6 p .m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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