Utah’s dominant win over Oregon in Week 12 makes them the relatively easy choice for Friday night’s college football picks.
Oregon Ducks vs. Utah Utes
Friday, December 03, 2021 – 08:00 PM EST at Allegiant Stadium
The Pac-12 just wasn’t very good this year. It was the weakest of the Power 5 conferences, with just two ranked teams heading into Champ Week: No. 11 Oregon, and No. 19 Utah, who will play for the conference title this Friday night.
The Ducks (10-2 SU, 5-7 ATS) have the better record, but Utah (9-3 SU, 5-7 ATS) are the better team on paper, and they’re the right college football pick after opening as 2.5-point home faves on the NCAAF odds board at MaximBet, one of our best sportsbooks.
One Field Goal Is All It Takes
We’ve already seen this movie once. Deservedly or not, the Ducks were nestled in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings – until they visited Salt Lake City in Week 12. Final score: Oregon 7, Utah 38, with the home side cashing in as 3.5-point favorites.
They’ll be playing on neutral ground in the rematch, but home-field advantage has only been worth 1.71 points across the FBS this year, according to Jeff Sagarin’s numbers at The USA Today.
That means the college football lines haven’t really changed much for the rematch. We’re crossing the magic number three as well, so as long as you’re confident that Utah is a field goal better than Oregon on paper, fading the Ducks is an easy call for your Champ Week NCAAF picks.
Maybe it’s a tougher call than it appears, though. Sports Reference uses the Simple Rating System to evaluate teams, focussing purely on final scores and strength of schedule; they have Utah on top of the Pac-12 at plus-12.27 SRS and Oregon second at plus-9.57 SRS. That’s a shade less than three points if my math is right. The upcoming SP+ rankings through Week 13 at Football Outsiders also have Utah ahead by just 0.7 points.
Given these numbers, you’ll want some extra angles to work with before putting any serious money into this contest.
Here’s one: Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal. He’s been rumored as a candidate for one of the top jobs elsewhere in the FBS, although those rumors may have quieted somewhat now that both USC (Mike Riley) and LSU (Brian Kelly) have filled their open positions.
Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is also said to be the top target for Akron, but again, that’s not necessarily a major issue; Cristobal has seen each of his previous three OCs leave Eugene at the end of the season.
There’s speculation about Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham’s job, too, except, in this case, rumor has it he’s considering retirement after 17 years under the headset.
Whittingham denies it, but when it comes to motivation for Friday’s contest, with a likely spot in the Rose Bowl going to the winner, his players might be more eager to support him than the Ducks will Cristobal. Bet accordingly.
NCAAF Pick: Utah –2.5 (–118) at MaximBet