Although there are only two ranked matchups this weekend, the stakes for both games are incredibly high. The Ducks head to Salt Lake City to take on the Utes in yet another huge Pac-12 battle, while a short-handed Duke team heads to Louisville to take on the Cards in an ACC showdown. TPR previews both games below. (Lines via Caesars Sportsbook)
No.8 Oregon @ No.13 Utah (+6.5): 3:30 ET FOX
Both the Ducks and Utes are coming off big wins, with Utah getting a thrilling victory at the last second on the road against USC, and Oregon getting another convincing win, 42-28 over Cam Ward and Wazzu. Oregon and Utah have met with huge Pac-12 title implications each year and that continues this season.
Tied for second in the Pac-12 behind just Washington, the winner of this game would control their own destiny the rest of the way. The Ducks are led by a three headed monster of transfers on offense, QB Bo Nix (Auburn), RB Bucky Irving (Minnesota), and WR Tez Johnson (Troy). And that is without mentioning the Ducks leading receiver Troy Franklin, who has 768 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
The Utes on the other hand, have relied on an incredible defense for most of the season. The additions of transfer defensive end Logan Fano (BYU) and linebacker Levani Damuni (Stanford) have been huge for a Utes defense that has been best in the Pac-12 for the last few seasons. The offense finally broke out Saturday at USC in a 34-32 win. A normally conservative offense exploded behind Bryson Barnes who is undefeated as a starter in college football.
The junior QB accounted for three of his four passing touchdowns on the season in the win, along with 235 yards through the air and another 57 and a touchdown on the ground. Utah is incredibly versatile, even pulling defensive players over to the offensive side with success. It will be a battle of the trenches at Rice-Eccles, and control of the line of scrimmage will most likely decide the outcome.
No.20 Duke @ No.18 Louisville (-6): 3:30 ET ESPN
With Riley Leonard most likely being out for the Blue Devils, the line continues to shift in the Cards favor. However, with both teams coming off a loss, it will be important to start hot in this one.
Duke will miss Leonard greatly if he does end up missing tomorrow’s game, and true freshman Henry Belin IV struggled mightily in his brief action in the loss at FSU last week. The good news for the Blue Devils is the defense has been lights out all season, aside from their toughest test against FSU where the offense did them no favors. Transfer corners Al Blades Jr. (Miami) and Myles Jones (Texas A&M) have helped revamp a Duke defense that may be the best in the ACC.
After sustaining its first loss of the season in a shocker at Pitt, Louisville had a week to regroup and prepare for this ranked matchup. Transfer duo Jack Plummer from Purdue and Jamari Thrash from Georgia State have been lights out for the Cards. Thrash has accounted for nearly a third of Plummer’s passing yards with 639 yards and six touchdowns.
The Blue Devils will need to force turnovers, which is something that Plummer has struggled with. In the loss to Pitt Plummer turned the ball over three times. If the defense can create some havoc early, they may just be able to sneak out of Louisville with a win without their QB1.