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Pac 12 Championship Game Prediction: #10 Oregon vs. #17 Utah

Game prediction for the #10 Oregon Ducks and #17 Utah Utes in the Pac 12 championship game

Tonight's Pac 12 championship game is a rematch between the #10 Oregon Ducks (10-2) and the #17 Utah Utes (9-3). The first matchup was just two weeks ago, and Utah smashed the Ducks by a 38-7 score. Oregon faded down the stretch and the Utes come into this matchup red hot, but winning rematches aren't easy.

Here are our staff predictions:

BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER

Prediction: Oregon 24, Utah 20

There are a few reasons I'm going with Oregon in this matchup, even though I don't feel great about it. To begin, rematches are hard, especially those played just two weeks apart.

Oregon hasn't been great down the stretch, but its performance against Utah was more of an anomaly, and it was also embarrassing. Utah beat Oregon up on both sides of the ball and it didn't appear the Ducks wanted to be there. 

The Utes rushed for 208 yards, and the Utah ground game has been outstanding during the late stretch. Utah racked up 275.6 rushing yards per game in its final five contests, all wins. Oregon's rush defense was quite good in its final five games against opponents not named Utah. Oregon won six of its final seven games, and it gave up just 102.2 rushing yards per game in the wins, and it kept three of its final four opponents to less than 100 yards. The exception was Utah, who went for 208 yards and four scores in the win.

On the other side of the ball, Oregon rushed for 242.2 yards per game in its final six wins. Again, the exception was the loss to Utah, a game in which the Ducks rushed for just 63 yards (2.7 YPC). Utah, which is led by star linebacker Devin Lloyd, has a stout rush defense that has held its final four opponents to just 78.3 yards per game on the ground. 

I think both teams will struggle to run the ball for much of the game, so it will come down to which quarterback makes the most plays. Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown is coming off his best game of the season in a 38-29 win over Oregon State, and I expect him to make enough big throws for the Ducks to win their second straight Pac 12 championship.

My nervousness are the rumblings about Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead taking the Akron job. Will that be a distraction for the Duck players or will it be something that galvanizes the players? That will certainly have an impact on the outcome.

VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST

Prediction: Utah 30, Oregon 17

This is an obvious rematch of the throttling that Utah did to Oregon a couple weeks ago. Oregon is a funny team. They have the best edge rusher in America according to many draftniks and speed all over the field but when it comes to games where they are facing a physical opponent they tend to wilt. They say it is tough to beat a team two times in a season and I would say most of the time I agree with that. Unfortunately, I do not subscribe to that theory here. I think Utah wins again and I do not think it will be all that close.

ANDREW MCDONOUGH, IB CONTRIBUTOR

Prediction: Oregon 28, Utah 24

It is extremely difficult to beat a team twice in a season, and I think the Utes' 38-7 blowout of Oregon just a couple weeks ago was the perfect confluence of events for Utah. Rice-Eccles Stadium was absolutely rocking, the Ducks made some early mistakes, the what could have easily been a 14-6 game heading into halftime swung on its head in the last two minutes of the first half and turned into a 28-0 blowout. 

Now, at a neutral site (Las Vegas), I expect the talent of the Ducks to rise and allow them to overcome a physical Utah football team. Oregon is better - and more physical - than what they showed in their loss to Utah. This is the same team that pounded Ohio State for 269 rushing yards on 7.1 YPC in Columbus. It won't be easy, but I'll go with a motivated Oregon team to capture the Pac-12 title.

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RYAN ROBERTS, RISENDRAFT

Prediction: Utah 27, Oregon 19

Utah is playing consistent football right now. Oregon, on the other hand, has been very up and down. The Utes defense is playing on a near elite level and powers them to victory here.

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