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It's been all Utah and under money early in the week. The Utes opened as 4.5-point favorites but were quickly bet as high as -6.5. Religiously an "over" team for the better part of the last decade, Oregon has cashed more unders than overs this season. It's no surprise to see the total drop from 50.5 to 47.5, though it's anyone's guess how low it gets considering Utah is extremely content in a rock fight.
There's no team in the country hotter than Utah. Since losing to USC back in Week 4 and starting the season 1-3 against the spread, the Utes have ripped off eight straight ATS, outscoring teams by an average of 29 points per game. Opposing team totals were 6-2 to the under over that span, with only one offense surpassing 15 points. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has had no trouble putting points on the board against Oregon in his tenure, with his teams averaging 30.5 points per game over eight career tilts with the Ducks.
This will be the toughest test since Week 1 for Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, who may have seen his draft stock take a hit after a Week 13 loss to Arizona State ultimately ended the Ducks' bid for a playoff berth. Friday's tilt will be just the second time this season Herbert and Co. face one of the top 25 SP+ defenses in the country. In the opener against Auburn - SP+'s No. 4 defense - the veteran quarterback completed 28 of 37 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown. Though Oregon has virtually no chance of cracking the four-team playoff, Herbert can stamp the envelope on a monumental career in Eugene. What better way to do it than against the defense that ranks third in the nation in both yards and points allowed per game?
There have been several Utah squads that seemed an offense away from really taking the next step. Could this season's edition break through? The Utes are No. 13 in yards per play (6.6) on the season and have been scorching hot of late, boosting that number to 7.3 yards per play over their last three games. Every stat needs context, however; not to discredit Utah's offense, but the schedule has been far from daunting.
Here's how each of Utah's opponents this season stacks up in current SP+ defense rankings:
|Opponent||SP+ Defense Rank|
|Washington State||No. 94|
|Oregon State||No. 92|
|Arizona State||No. 42|
The Utes now get an Oregon stop unit that ranks 17th in SP+ defense and 10th in the country in points allowed per game. If the Ducks' offense was as potent as years past and there were a couple more possessions expected in this game, the handicap would be quite different. But both teams are completely fine playing slow, and I think Utah's in for a reality check against the best defense it'll play all season. I'd take a stab at the team total under 27 or better.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKoIodziej.