Oregon vs. Utah for a Season Opener? What a Joke!

Jordan Ingram Editorials 48 Comments

I’ve never been to Utah, and Lord willing, I will not have to travel there to start the 2020 college football season. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful place. But I’m not talking about bird watching or pleasure hikes. I’m talking about football.

According to multiple media sources, the Oregon Ducks football team will learn this week if it opens the season on the road against reigning Pac-12 South champions — Utah Utes.

The possible Pac-12 crossover match-up tentatively slated for September 12 in Salt Lake City smells like a trap game to me. How could this possibly happen? And why would the Ducks jeopardize their season with a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 Championship game to kick-off an abbreviated season?

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: There is no rivalry between Utah and Oregon. Utah fans undoubtedly despise the Ducks, and with good reason. Oregon has spoiled Utah’s hopes on the national stage on several occasions over the past several years in both men’s basketball and football.

So what? Join the club. Everybody cries for the head of the king but Utah’s fanboy obsession with taking down Mighty Oregon is awkward and weird — like taking your sister to prom.

Tom Corno

Will the Ducks repeat last year’s Pac-12 Championship performance against the Utes if they play on the road to open the season?

According to GoDucks.com, Oregon leads the all-time series 23-10 against Utah (Oregon, 23 wins, Utah, 10 wins). In the last 10 match-ups, Oregon leads the series over Utah, 7-3. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy — nothing to worry about, right? Well, let’s give credit where credit is due. The Utes are back-to-back Pac-12 South Division champs (2018, 2019) and clearly the team to beat south of the California-Oregon border. A shaky start to the season could be curtains for the Ducks. So, let’s look at why playing Utah to open the season is a bad idea for Oregon.

Firstly, the state of Utah is grappling with a resurgent coronavirus, reporting 37,973 cases of COVID-19 and 274 deaths as of July 26, according to KSL.com. And as much as we all want to watch football, the safety of student-athletes is paramount. Is traveling to the state of Utah a good idea? (Especially when we had three foes coming to Autzen?)

Secondly, Oregon should break the seal on the upcoming season against a less dangerous opponent. What about North Dakota State? Portland State? San Diego State? Sure, a rematch of last year’s conference championship game will likely attract more viewers, but at what cost for the Ducks? If the Ducks aren’t sure-footed in their game plan, it could mean the difference between a run for a national title and the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl.

Eugene Johnson

Cristobal showed the Utes who’s boss. But can he do it again with a new quarterback and offensive line?

Finally, Utah will be out for revenge. Last year, the Utes were knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff but were denied when Oregon buried the Utes 37-15 in one of its finest defensive performances to date under head coach Mario Cristobal. The Utes were manhandled on national television by a hungrier, more physical Oregon team.

And instead of vaulting the program into a new tier of college football hierarchy, the Utah football program vanished from the national conversation like a fart in the wind. All joking aside, I’m sure there is a voodoo doll stashed in the darkest corner of the Utah locker room, crafted in effigy of Puddles and filled with carpenter nails and bad omens.

If the Pac-12 announces this week that Oregon will kick off the season against the Utes — on the road — I think we can safely say the conference has it out for the Ducks. Is that how you treat the current flagship program of the conference?

Jordan Ingram
San Diego, California
Top photo credit: Eugene Johnson

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Mulholland

YES , it is a joke !!! BUT , I think MC has the mentality of “ anytime / anywhere “ let’s get after it ! What I dislike is , 4 H , 6 away ! I think with little to no fans this season , away games won’t be as difficult as they normally would be ! But it will be a good test for TS !!!
GO DUCKS – be WELL and safe everyone

Panther801

Jordan, first why would you want to disrespect Utah? Like where you live is really doing well. 2nd I give credit to Oregan Football, they’re hardnosed football play has won them 2 National titles 12 Conference titles 5 Division titles with a Bowl record of 15-18, with an all time record of 668-499-46. But my Question is why would you really disrespect the U OF U, aka THE ORIGINAL BOWL BUSTERS????!!!! You called Utah Football a joke!!!! Utah UTES have 1 claimed Nation title, Coach Whitt is in his 16th season @Utah his record is a winning one 131–64 (.672) All Time 688-467-31, the UTES have been in the Pac12 since 2011. Bowl Record in 23 attempts, the UTES are an astounding 17-6 (.739) winning percent. 24 Conference Title with 3 Division Titles. At one point Utah held the record for consecutive Bowl appearances more than ANY college in history. For you to say playing Utah as an opener is a JOKE is disrespectful to all the student athletes, the coaching staff, the students and the state of Utah. Like I said I have respect for Orgean Football its a great program. I know you as a fan are scared to play Utah as an opener because of the possibility of losing.

UnionJack

He doesn’t call Utah football a joke. He calls adding them to the schedule a joke. That is completely different. His 3 reasons for calling it a joke have nothing to do with disrespecting the Utah football program.

And please don’t claim that “National Championship.” That’s worse than BYU’s National Championship. We had a great season back then, but it’s been homerish and cringe-worthy to try flaunting it as a National Championship.

UnionJack

Utah fan here. I don’t disagree with the main content of your article. I wasn’t too excited to hear that we’re adding a loss to start our season.

I am confused by the way you open the article. As a fan base, I honestly don’t think we despise Oregon any more than any other schools despise Oregon. Right now, the road to the P12 title goes through you guys. Last year, there was a lot of discussion of Utah vs Oregon because it was obvious for most of the season that we’d likely be meeting in the title game. We despise ASU and USC. I’d argue that we simply respect Oregon enough to realize that we have to go through you to win the conference. It’s more about winning the conference than it is about Oregon.

Oh, and we’re just hoping to be decent this year. I’d like to think we’re reloading, but it’s much more likely that we’re rebuilding. Oregon as an opener is essentially an automatic loss.

Last edited 3 months ago by UnionJack
Jon Sousa

Hey UJ, thanks for coming and commenting. You are welcome any time. And we DO appreciate your take on things.

Charles Fischer

Amen to that. I do not mind fans of other schools joining us for discussion anytime…as long as they follow our rules! If so, we could have some great debates that we all learn from, so I do want to welcome and encourage them to chime in anytime.

UnionJack

UtahDuck gave a pretty good summary. We’re REALLY young in the secondary, and we’re likely going to be relying on some highly touted freshman. We have one decent LB but lack depth and experience otherwise. We replace most of the starters on the DL, but there is still a lot of experience as we always rotate a lot of players on the DL. By mid-season at least, I’d expect the DL to be up to normal Utah standards…if we make it to mid-season.

On offense, we’re replacing our QB…though we picked up a senior South Carolina transfer that is supposed to have NFL potential. At the same time, many wouldn’t be surprised if our RS sophomore and former Texas transfer takes over. We’ll see. We’re replacing our best ever RB with some younger talent….but I’m sure we’re going to miss Moss for a good while. WRs are experienced, but still have potential/hype to live up to IMO. Even with the experience at WR, we just haven’t recruited/developed that position as well. We have a great TE who will likely be playing on Sundays eventually. OL is also experienced, but they never clicked last year. Even with the experience on OL, I’m very concerned. I was worried all of last year, and then you guys exposed us. I was surprised the OL didn’t cost us more games.

As for our most hated rival. BYU is the obvious one…though living out of state for 15 years, and playing in a different conference has diminished that for me personally. Within the the P12 though. ASU, hands down. We’ve had some ugly games with them (partly because we’re both play pretty physical), had a lot of head-to-head recruiting battles (both Eno Benjamin and Jayden Daniels were heavy Utah leans for awhile….and there is more to the story with Jayden Daniels), and had some ugly ugly trash talking on the field, off the field, online, and in person. Their fans kind of suck IMO…and that’s me trying to be polite. USC is also a very disliked team…for the obvious reason. Beyond that, I think it depends on the fan. It’s a lot easier to dislike good teams (Oregon and Washington) than nobody teams (OSU or Arizona), so it may be that Oregon is next simply because you’re currently the best.

Charles Fischer

Don’t get me wrong, as I LIKE Utah fans and the school, as I think your coach routinely out-performs in player analysis and coaching them up. He is a good man, and I do not harbor the feelings towards Utes that I do toward Washington, (pardon me while I turn to spit) and USC.

But I have heard of a ton of Utah fans that dislike Oregon intensely, and thus why the article was written as it was. It was my personal experience that I shared with the writer.

I want you to win the south every time; to beat USC is superb coaching by the Utes, because the damn Trojans have the talent. I respect the hell out of your staff…. (basketball too)

Darren Perkins

I initially misread Oregon’s schedule and thought the had 5 home conference games, and 4 road. So that would have made sense to schedule Utah. 5 and 5.

But the Ducks only have 4 home and 5 road. So adding the Utes makes it 4 home, 6 road. So I don’t know what they’re smoking. I guess somehow it just won’t work out to scheule UCLA.

Last edited 3 months ago by Darren Perkins
David Marsh

I think Oregon is going to handle Utah alright. Utah will want revenge and doing so from the comfort of their own stadium is all the better for them but I don’t think Oregon is going to let them. Utah has to break in a lot of new pieces on defense and though Oregon has a lot of pieces to break in on offense I think Oregon will score enough points on offense and the Oregon defense will carry the load and shut down the Utah offense.

If the rest of the schedule doesn’t change from its original form the second game should be against Colorado which is another away game. Which would mean the first home game would be against Washington. Then this is followed by some alternating away and home games… in short we don’t see Oregon at home for two weeks in a row until NOVEMBER! by the current schedule… I know in an early release of the new schedule the Pac-12 is looking at more bye weeks but that is still putting a whole lot of travel on the Ducks here. I find that to be less fair than anything else.

It also leads to the question of why is Oregon given Utah and not UCLA? Probably for the money grab as you mentioned Jordan.

Haywarduck

Another reason to have no-conference games is so the playoff committee and rankings process can triangulate who is the best. When you just play conference games there is no telling which conference is full of duds and which is truly competitive.

It may help us get into the playoffs, but it just might allow previous history play itself out with 2 SEC teams making the playoff.

The pac-12 has been weak in the past and this schedule just might allow the playofff committee and the ranking system mess with the Pac-12 champ.

I suppose all Oregon can do is win big in every game. This first game will certainly give Oregon the chance to establish our domination, they better do it. The dud of Washington making the playoffs may come back to haunt us.

Tandaian

I don’t see how they can plan to play at Utah, it would unbalance the schedule. Oregon only has 4 home conference games and Utah has 5 home conference games. If they are going to play each other, Utah will be coming to Eugene. I’m assuming the reason for 10 conference game is to balance the schedule. Having one team have 4 home games and another 6, doesn’t balance the schedule. Unless, they are going to completely redo every teams schedule to have it 5 and 5.

David Marsh

I am really hoping they give Oregon another home again at least. Right now Oregon doesn’t play a home game until week 3 against Washington. Then they are on the road again to play Cal the next game. It may not hurt fans, as having fans at games is the most remote possibility of the season right now, but that much travel time can be difficult on a team.

UtahDuck

Utah is a dumb game strictly for covid reasons(although it is looking a hair better) but it is not a trap game if oregon can’t beat Utah next season then something is wrong in coaching and development at oregon. First and foremost Utah does not recruit anywhere near the level that oregon does. While utah had a great season last year and the year before they are very cyclical and have been since joining the pac 12. Whittingham relies on a developing a number of players for 3-4 years and then running the conference with his rs jr’s and sr’s. which are all gone.

now on to their depth chart. utah lost 9 starters on defense from last years CCG. 5 – DB, 3 – DL, 1 – LB. from DL I have a feeling their DE’s will be pretty good, Tafua Tupai each got a lot of experience as rotation pieces and should fill in nicely. with no experienced depth after them they have two freshmen. at DT I am a lot more skeptical, the guys they have were rotation pieces last year but really didn’t get much and were not very effective in either the run or pass.

LB – first utah runs a 4-2-5 defense as their base so they only have 2 LB’s. With Bernard gone they will rely heavily on Lloyd in him picking up his game.(He received pac 12 mention last year) he is good and has the opportunity to grow but he often over commits to the run and should be exploited in the RPO. they also picked up transfer sione lund who was originally a top 200 RB at Stan. he hasn’t really done much so I don’t know what to expect. Depth here shouldn’t be a huge issue.

DB – They will be relying on a true freshman at cb and very inexperienced at the other positions as well. Hubert at Safety should be good He replaced blackmon when he was injured last year. outside of hubert overall DB’s will be very weak and I think will be easily exploited in the pass game.

I’ve mentioned the loss of Moss and huntley before and frankly I think the loss of moss is irreplaceable where Utah can manage without huntley. Moss is one of the best RB’s in a decade in his YAC and no RB will be able to match what he did. Utah doesn’t have a “Great” Oline and Utah should expect a drop in Yards per game and carry in 2020.

conclusion: I think a Decent to good Dline won’t be able to get the stats they usually do because the DB’s will be young and leaky at best. Compound this with the fact that utah will probably struggle to stay ahead of the sticks with Moss gone and Utah has a lot cut out of their standard gameplan. add in oregon playing with a very experienced DB and they should easily take advantage of a rookie QB.

Footballguru12

They will also have one of the most experienced offensive lines in the pac12 while they did loose alot on defense they reloaded on offense. Devin Loyd on defense at linebacker was a monster on the field last year and will lead a talented group of experienced young players! They will be a very competitive team would make for a fun opener. Also fishduck if your going to talk covid numbers in utah you should know they are currently at a 65% recovered rate as of the end of July I’m one of those that has recovered. So there really isn’t a rise in cases that is a cause for concern they will come and go and be just fine and in all likely hood go back to Oregon with a w!

Footballguru12

They dont have a rookie qb starting qb is Jake Bently a transfer from South Carolina https://youtu.be/8VP0hnbRBNw

UtahDuck

My guess is Brumfield. He is a true Jr with about 70 carries over 21 games. He only has an average of 4.5 Yards an attempt. I just don’t know if he has the power and yards after contact ability that moss did.

He was last years number 2 in total carries.

Jon Sousa

Utah, you definitely know Utah and football. Whenever we do play Utah (???) you should write up an article for the week before the game. It will give us some good ideas of what to look for.

UtahDuck

You just have to learn these things when you work in slc and your vp has ute season tickets and smack talks utah all season long.

Charles Fischer

Amen Duck Brother; what UtahDuck wrote was exceptional and incredibly helpful for Oregon fans.

Jon Sousa

Make it happen Charles. I could read an article UD before every game we play against Utah.

UtahDuck

You are way to kind. I’d feel bad for whoever would have to edit that. Haha

Charles Fischer

Amen. Does he do basketball too?

Brent Pennington

Nice article written by a Pro, Jordan. Congratulations. I feel your sentiments too. But, Utah may be an easier match for the Ducks than the previous preseason schedule. We know the Utes, many of their players and tendencies. Isn’t that a better matchup than the Buckeyes? Or maybe even less risky than NDS? I’m sure that Cristobal doesn’t really care about the football matchup and has confidence, and Avalos should be primed and pumped about it. I have very high respect for Coach Willingham. He is even one I wanted AD Mullens to pursue. We have the beef, but how are our coaches gelling? This test of Moorhead against Coach Kyle Willingham (A Defensive specialist, but his fingerprints will be all over this game) out of the gate will present a challenge. In conclusion, our Ducks are for real and not be denied in SLC, or anywhere this year, until the post season if there is one. Can’t wait for the 2020 schedule to become final. Go Ducks!

Last edited 3 months ago by Brent Pennington
duckcardinal

Yes, Utah lost a lot in their graduating class, but under Willingham they have been very effective @ developing players and reloading along both lines, plus they are very savvy with bringing in transfers, and players coming back from Mormon mission. Their physical style of play will not be significantly diminished.

In addition to their loss in the Pac12 Championship game, a sit-out/injury depleted Utes team was beaten badly in their bowl game by Texas. When their first kickoff comes, they will have 8-10 months of bad taste in their mouths from those two season ending games. Their first game opponent will need to be ready for that.

DumpsterFire

Yeah, not a big fan of the argument here. Yeah, Oregon could lose, but what looks better, a win against a quality opponent or a win against the local high school team? The best are the best not because they play mediocrity, they’re the best because they beat the best. I’m all for Oregon playing Utah over ND State, Hawaii, PSU, Eastern Washington, etc. Games against tOSU, Michigan, MSU and the like got fans more excited, and helped (or would have this year) propel the Ducks to a higher level instantaneously rather than hoping for someone else to lose at the end of the season. That’s my take on it…

Now, as far as “Puddles”…the last time I checked Puddles was the live mascot Oregon had way back when. Our current mascot, The Duck has no cutsey nickname. The Duck, short, simple, to the point and much more akin to The Rock than anything else. Heck, he’s more like a pro wrestler than a mascot at times. Think of some of the antics The Duck has been known to do over the years (including a sweet elbow drop or two), and pretty much at every game there’s something new. I can almost picture him with his own theme song entering Autzen before games. Yeah, where’s Supwitchugirl needs to do another song just for him, call it Eye of the Duck! But his name isn’t Puddles….

30Duck

Yes, a big quack-out to you Dumpster Fire. “The Duck”, “The Rock” what a tag team that would be!

DumpsterFire

I’m tellin ya, this needs to be done! Someone needs to talk to coach Cristobal, have him get a hold of his buddy Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson…someone else get a hold of Supwitchugirl and have them sing this as both The Rock and The Duck enter Autzen…

Risin’ up, back on the turf
Did my time, took my waddles
Went the distance, now I’m back on web feet
Just a duck and his will to take flight
So many time, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for the blur
Don’t lose your grip on the offense of the past
You must fly just to keep it alive
It’s the eye of The Duck, it’s the thrill of the quack
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rivals
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in Autzen
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of The Duck
Bill to bill, out on the turf
Scorin’ points, stayin’ ahead
They stack the D ‘till we take to the pass
For the quill with the skill to survive
It’s the eye of The Duck, it’s the thrill of the quack
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rivals
And the last known survivor stalk his prey in Autzen
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of The Duck
Risin’ up, straight up the polls
Have the guts, got the offense
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna drop
Just The Duck and his will to survive
It’s the eye of The Duck, it’s the thrill of the quack
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rivals
And the last known survivor stalk his prey in Autzen
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of The Duck
The eye of The Duck!
The eye of The Duck!
The eye of The Duck!
The eye of The Duck!

BigDucksFan

I was thinking a good entry song for the football team onto the field would be “We will rock you” by Queen. I can see them now running onto the field just as the words “We will – we will rock you” are sung.

DumpsterFire

How about; “We will Duck you!” ??? Yeah, cause what could go wrong with that idea…

BigDucksFan

Interesting.

30Duck

“The Duck” is so rich with potential. He is the strong, silent type. But at the same time, gregarious. Charisma drips off of him, dominates any forum without being arrogant. Will answer to, “The Duck” or just, “Duck”

DumpsterFire

Check that…”We ARE Duck U”….Can’t have those purple pooches up north try and spin that one on us and make it into a negative connotation, now can we?

30Duck

Wow, I had to wipe the sweat away with a towel after that one! It is imperative that Mario gets in touch with his bud, Dwayne. After seeing, “The Eye Of The Duck”, no recruit could go anywhere else!

Last edited 3 months ago by 30Duck
Charles Fischer

True…some call him “Puddles,” and I call him “The Duck,” but any reverence to our beloved mascot is fine with me! Dumpster…you are new and WELCOME! I’d love to see more of your reasoned thoughts…

Last edited 3 months ago by Charles Fischer
Annie

Yes! The Duck is “The Duck.”

BigDucksFan

Utah is not the competitor this year as it was last year due to its losses for players moving on, and they do not have the depth to replace them like the Ducks. So it’s a game the Ducks should take in stride.

The one thing I don’t understand fully is why did we dropped our OOC games if we are just going to replace them with in conference games ?? Yes, I understand that it was dictated by the Pac, but why ?? Certainly not to prevent the spread of the virus because that doesn’t make sense. If we are substituting Utah for North Dakota State why didn’t we just play North Dakota State as planned ?? What am I missing here ??

ptdduck

We dropped the OOC games to buy more time and for scheduling flexibility. It’s easy to replace them with additional conference games.

Totally agree with you about Utah. It’s advantageous to play them earlier in the season than later due to our depth and experience. Utah will be a different team come November and cold weather in Salt Lake is also to their advantage.

Last edited 3 months ago by ptdduck
Jon Sousa

Correct on all counts. Not to mention the court costs. The only good reason to cancel out of conference games (logically) is to delay the opening of the season to allow COVID a chance to subside. Cancel OOC to schedule other games????? Lawsuit waiting to happen.

My opinion if you are going to cancel OOC, and want to play a full slate of conference games, don’t add any games and push back the schedule as far as possible.

30Duck

I agree on all counts, BDF, cancelling the OOC games? It’s a cosmetic move that at first glance appears to be a safety measure; but practically doesn’t hold up. On the actual game, as you, and Jordan points out in the article, save for the 2015 game, certainly one of the ugliest games in the annals of Oregon football, the Ducks have used the Utes as a punching bag.

Santa Rosa Duck

I have the same questions. I think North Dakota State would have been the real trap game. They are a fine team and their motivation would have been through the roof.

BigDucksFan

I totally agree with you. It would have been a better game with more interest and challenge for the Ducks.