Oregon State offense vs. Utah defense
One of the most formidable defenses the Beavers will face this season. The Utes lead the Pac-12 in three defensive categories, including passing yards and scoring. The question is, has Utah been tested? In total offense, Florida (No. 62), Arizona State (102) and San Diego State (117) hardly qualify as challenges. Oregon State is No. 57, but have faced some decent defenses. Utah has one of the West’s top defensive back units, led by strong safety Cole Bishop (27 tackles, 1 interception) and cornerback Clark Phillips (4 career interceptions). Utah has seven players with at least 2½ tackles for loss, led by defensive end Gabe Reid (3½ TFLs, 2½ sacks) and Van Fillinger (2½ sacks). Since getting roasted by Florida, Utah has given up only 162 rushing yards the past three games. The Utes have yielded a combined 525 yards since Florida, in wins over Southern Utah, San Diego State and Arizona State.
Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan will attempt to rebound from a four-interception performance against USC. Nolan has generally had a positive season, throwing for 913 yards and seven touchdowns, while running enough to keep defenses honest. But the six interceptions are glaring. The running game, not quite what it was a year ago, has been steady. The Beavers have a three-headed approach in Deshaun Fenwick (233 yards, 4 TDs), Damien Martinez (122, 1) and Jam Griffin (144, 2). With tight end Luke Musgrave out indefinitely, senior Tre’Shaun Harrison has become OSU’s top receiver (19 receptions, 241 yards, 2 TDs). Anthony Gould has emerged as primary receiver (12-228-2). The wild card in Oregon State’s offense is Jack Colletto, the short yardage ace who has seven carries for 53 yards and three touchdowns.
Oregon State defense vs. Utah offense
Another hot offense in Utah, as the Utes average 42 points and generate 476.8 offensive yards a game. Utah is as straightforward as it gets in the Pac-12, as the Utes are a traditional power team that uses tight ends. They’re led by quarterback Cam Rising, the fifth-year junior who has generated 1,070 yards in passing and rushing yards through four games. Rising will not have his favorite receiving target in tight end Brant Kuithe, as he’s out for the season (knee). But the Utes remain deep at tight end, as their second leading receiver is Dalton Kincaid (16-240, 4 TDs). To watch at receiver is 6-foot-5 Devaughn Vele (14-175, 2 TDs). Tavion Thomas, a 1,100-yard running back a year ago, is playing more of a shared role this season. Thomas has 282 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while Micah Bernard and Jaylon Glover are getting plenty of action.
The Beavers’ defense, so solid a week ago against what was the Pac-12′s top offense in USC, counter with one of the West’s top secondaries. OSU ranks third in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense and fourth in total defense. Oregon State corner Rejzohn Wright and Alex Austin are considered among the best duos in the conference. Seventh-year safety Jaydon Grant and Wright lead the Beavers with two interceptions each. Safety Kitan Oladapo is OSU’s top tackler with 29, a career-high 15 coming in a win over Fresno State. Inside linebacker Kyrei Fisher-Morris has a team-high three tackles for loss. The Beavers have been good at pressuring the quarterback, though they have only five sacks as a defense.
Matchup of note
The easy call is Oregon State’s pass rush and how it contains Rising. Let’s go in a different direction, and that’s Oregon State’s running game against Utah. A year ago, the Beavers ran for 260 yards in a 42-34 win over the Utes. OSU seems on verge of breaking out with the run game. Griffin is coming off a career-best game. Is the Utes’ run defense as good as it’s been the past three games (162 total yards), or porous as it was against Florida (283 yards)? If it’s somewhere in between or closer to Florida, Oregon State has a chance to take this game to the finish.
- Utah is one of five teams nationally that ranks among the top 20 in scoring offense and defense.
- The Utes have won 13 of their last 14 games against conference opponents. The only loss was Oregon State last season.
- Utah has sold out Rice-Eccles Stadium 72 consecutive times.
- Oregon State leads the Pac-12 in punt returns, and rank second in fourth down conversion pct., passes intercepted, yardage per pass completion, red zone offense and defense, and sacks allowed.
- Saturday’s kickoff time is the earliest by five hours for Oregon State this season.
- OSU leads the Utah series 12-11-1.
- Through four games, the Beavers have had four different tackle leaders.
Utah 27, Oregon State 20