ESPN College GameDay Odds: Oregon Ducks At Utah Utes Football Betting For Week 9

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Written By Brett Gibbons | Last Updated
college gameday odds

College GameDay heads to Salt Lake City for their Week 9 featured game. The No. 8 Oregon Ducks (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) visit the No. 11 Utah Utes (6-1, 3-1) as road favorites, making Utah home underdogs on college football odds boards. The loser of this game likely falls out of Pac-12 Championship contention while the winner controls their destiny. The game kicks off Saturday, Oct. 28, at 3:30 p.m. ET from Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Oregon Ducks at Utah Utes Odds

Compare odds from the best college football betting sites below. Click on the odds in the table to place a bet now.

Utah Vs. Oregon Quick Look

4.15 (2nd)PPD1.84 (89th)
1.69 (30th)PPD/A1.37 (11th)
7.5 (3rd)YPP4.9 (101st)
4.8 (24th)YPP/A5.0 (36th)
2-1Away/Home Record4-0

Table key: Power (TheLines aggregate power rating), KFord (KFord Rating), PPD (points per drive scored), PPD/A (points per drive allowed), YPP (yards per play), YPP/A (yards per play allowed)

Utah Utes Team Preview

The guessing game has come to an end. Quarterback Cam Rising and prolific tight end Brant Kuthie will not play this year after both suffering season-ending leg injuries last year. Down to QB Bryson Barnes (and, for a minute, Nate Johnson), Utah’s offense has come to a sputtering halt. The Utes rank 116th in EPA per play and 118th in EPA per pass, marginally helped along by a run game ranked 95th. Luckily, they faced USC’s defense last week, matching a season-high 34 points scored.

In fact, it was their second week in a row scoring 34 – perhaps a product of moving from Johnson to Barnes after the bye week. There’s also a new face in town: emerging two-way phenom Sione Vaki (but we’ll get to him later).

As is the case under Kyle Whittingham, Utah adapted to their deficiencies and have won six of seven games to start the year. Defensively, few teams in the nation field the prowess of the Utes. They rank second in EPA per play allowed and fifth in sacks per game – including a nation-leading 5.7 sacks per home contest. However, they do go against one of the top offensive lines in the Pac-12 this week in Oregon.

According to ESPN’s FPI, the Utes own the nation’s 10th-best strength of record.

Oregon Ducks Team Preview

A three-point shootout loss to a rival in one of the conference’s toughest venues is all that stands between Oregon and a perfect record. A stellar offensive line and talented backfield once again lead the Ducks to the nation’s most efficient run game. Bucky Irving & Co. also led Oregon to the top spot last year, under a different playcaller. But no story on the Oregon offense is complete without Bo Nix. The struggling Auburn gunslinger was transformed into the country’s most efficient passer, even if his 6.4 average depth of target (aDOT) is a bottom-five number.

Irving briefly left last week’s win over Washington State with an injury, but he’s expected to play this week without hindrance.

The difference this season has been the defense. Last year, Oregon ranked 98th in points per drive surrendered; this year, that’s climbed to 30th. South Carolina transfer Jordan Burch and veteran Brandon Dorluss cement the Ducks’ pass rush as one of the nation’s best, recording a sack on nearly 10% of opposing dropbacks, the 10th-highest in the country. Against Barnes – who has the third-highest average time to throw (3.31s!) – Dan Lanning likely dials up more pressure in an attempt to get to the QB.

Getting to Barnes is one thing; finishing the sack is another. On 51 pressures this year, Barnes has taken just four sacks, one of the best pressure-to-sack ratios in the country.

Week 9: Utah Vs. Oregon Preview

Handling this game at home is critical for Utah. The Utes have not lost a non-COVID home game since Week 3 of the 2018 season, thanks in part to having one of the loudest and best home-field advantages in the country. When handicapping this matchup, Rice-Eccles got more than the standard HFA bump.

As it does every week, Utah’s ability to cover comes with their ability to score. Since shifting to Barnes, the offense has taken a clear step forward. Running back Ja’Quinden Jackson also returned from injury, racking up 94 and 118 yards on the ground in Utah’s last two contests. Jackson now shares the backfield with Vaki, who inevitably will be a key feature of this Utah offense.

Although Nix has excelled in the short passing game with Oregon, the Ducks will want to look downfield to receiver Troy Franklin. He’s proven to be a dangerous deep threat all season long, posting an aDOT double that of Nix’s average (12.3 yards). This season, Utah has allowed explosive plays in the passing game, ranking outside the top half in both 20- and 30-yard passes allowed. We saw it as early as Week 1 against Florida – downfield routes do open up.

So far, the Ducks’ offensive line has held up beautifully in pass protection. Nix is the single-least pressured QB in the country (min. 150 dropbacks) due in part to a top-10 release time (2.43s). Rhode Island transfer Ajani Cornelius has allowed just one pressure on the season; he’s the lone offensive tackle to hold that accomplishment so far. However, Cornelius was flagged five times last week, bringing his season total to nine.

The Name’s Vaki. Sione Vaki.

Still listed as a safety on Pro Football Focus, Vaki has exploded onto the college football scene. Despite sharing a conference with Colorado’s Travis Hunter, Vaki might be the top two-way player in college football today. Coming off the bye against Cal, he racked up 158 yards on the ground. Last week against USC, he hauled in 149 yards through the air. On the season, he has 25 tackles and an interception.

The coaching staff saw something in the true freshman during the bye week. His implementation into the offense, along with Barnes assuming the QB1 duties, changes the calculus of the Utah offense. If you look at the season-long numbers, they’re a bottom-30 offense. But with the fundamental changes made in the past few weeks, it’s unfair and unwise to assess them that way.

KFord Rating assessment

Find Kelley’s work all season long with TheLines!

The winner of this game will have the second-best chance to make it to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Championship game. If Oregon loses, they’re still squarely in the mix, but a loss all but eliminates Utah, based on my current numbers.

Oregon also needs this game to stay in the College Football Playoff hunt. A win would give the Ducks a 22% chance to make the final four, based on my current numbers. Bottom line, I have Oregon -7, with a 31% chance Utah moves to 4-1 in conference play.

Kelley Ford, TheLines College Football Podcast

Oregon At Utah Odds: Best Bets

Oregon re-opened this week as a -6.5 favorite, which grew to -7 midweek. However, Wednesday’s action pushed that line back down to -6.5. For the remainder of the week, it’s reasonable to expect the market to buy Utah at +7 and Oregon at -6.5.

But even at -6.5, I can’t lay the points with Oregon in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

To blindly bet Utah as a home dog until they lose in Salt Lake City has been pretty fruitful over the past few years, scant as those opportunities have been. But to assume they’ll never lose at home is a farce. However, with the fundamental changes to the offensive personnel, Utah, with the points, is the only side for me in this blockbuster. The best number is gone, so Utah backers will want to be patient – after all, college football games end on seven points in 14% of all games over the last five years, the second-highest frequency.

  • Brett’s bet: Utah +7 or better
  • Best available number: Utah

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