Utah-Oregon is a big game. But does it really matter that the Utes win?

A college football game with far-reaching consequences will be played Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium, unless you think Utah No.23 is home to No.3 and a potential college football playoff contender, Oregon. , is not a big problem for the home team.

Yes, you read that right. From Utah’s perspective, this perceived Titans clash may not be the huge task that many people claim to be.

Wait what?

We’ll start this week’s Utah utes mailbag with that same topic. As always, if you have a question for the Utah Utes Mailbag, you can tweet @Joshua_Newman, swipe my DMs, email me at [email protected], or even leave a comment at the bottom of this story.

Question: “The cap / goal for Kyle Whittingham’s Utah football team is to play in the Rose Bowl. How can you argue, without laughing, that it is better for Utah to beat Oregon on Saturday? Their chances for a Rose Bowl must be greater if they face an Oregon team 11-1 in Vegas. Utah wins this game? Rose bowl. Utah lose to an Oregon 11-1? … well, Rose Bowl. What keeps them from eating pure vanilla on Saturday? “- @peterwatkins

A: It’s been a popular topic of conversation since November 2, when Oregon debuted at No.4 in the initial college football playoff standings and the possibility that someone other than the Pac-12 champion going to the Rose Bowl began to focus.

Yes, the cap for this Utah team is still the Rose Bowl, so let’s reset the scenarios first.

Utah can reach their first Rose Bowl by winning the Pac-12 championship game or, it is possible for Oregon to win to go 12-1, including two wins over Utah, remain in the top four of the CFP, and the Rose Bowl then selects Utah as the highest-ranked Pac-12 behind the Ducks. Yes, Utah could lose both Oregon games including the Pac-12 championship game, beat Colorado in between, finish 8-5 and still make it to the Rose Bowl.

With all of that on the table, there’s a notion that Saturday’s game against Oregon really doesn’t matter. I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but I think it was talked about in a vacuum and not enough in reality.

If Utah loses to Oregon and Arizona State beats Oregon State to Corvallis on Saturday, the Utes don’t win the South and you have to beat Colorado or cause Arizona State to lose to Arizona on Saturday. next week to achieve victory.

Wouldn’t you rather beat Oregon now and not have to sweat next week?

How would you rather be in control and not have to rely on the state of Oregon for help later that evening?

Oregon crushed Utah in the Pac-12 title game two years ago, costing the Utes, fifth in the standings, a place in the college football playoffs. Wouldn’t you rather end Oregon’s own hopes of a national championship Saturday night at home?

It also assumes that, even at 8-5 with two losses to Oregon, Utah is still the top-ranked Pac-12 team when the dust settles on Selection Sunday. Well, Arizona State is currently a betting favorite to finish 9-3 and second in the South. Don’t rule out the Sun Devils sneaking up there if they win and finish second from the South.

As for the “straight vanilla”, yes, I understand because you will probably be seeing the Ducks again in two weeks, but the “straight vanilla” is a bit strong. Not showing your whole hand, depending on how Saturday goes, might make more sense.

CliffsNotes Version: Wouldn’t you rather control your own path instead of hoping Oregon would leave you the backdoor? Plus, I promise you anyone who says they’re okay with defeating the Utes is going to be apoplectic if Oregon transports them to Rice-Eccles.

Question: “Suppose the Utes win on Saturday. What impact does that have on the odds of beating the Ducks a second time in three weeks? Recent examples of other conferences? – @Zach__Lloyd

A: Difficult to say because the first game has not yet been played. We don’t know how the two teams played, we don’t know who won, we don’t know what the injury situation is, we don’t know if Oregon still has a place in the top four CFP etc.

This question is probably better suited for after Saturday, but I will say that I have never subscribed to the idea that it is difficult to beat a team twice in a season or three times in a season. If you are better that day than your opponent, that’s it.

As for recent examples, the one that comes to mind without any research is 2019, when Oklahoma beat Baylor at Waco at the end of the regular season and then beat the Bears again three weeks later. in the Big 12 Championship game. Baylor took a 31-10 halftime lead and Oklahoma scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to steal Game 1, then won the title game in overtime after that Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer (remember him?) suffered a concussion in the second quarter.

Question: “Do you see offense or defense winning more games for Utah MBB this season? »- E-mail Thomas

A: It’s really early days, the sample size is way too small and the competition hasn’t really been tough, but nothing I’ve seen so far has changed my mind on this. that I think will be this Utah team.

Utah State’s Craig Smith teams were better than average defensive units and, without a fully defined rotation so far, this Utah team has shown signs that they are collectively willing to defend at a high level. At the end of the day, the guys will either defend or they won’t play for Smith.

Offensively, I think there is cause for optimism, especially after Utah scored 70 points on a defensive-minded Abilene Christian. There are perimeter issues beyond David Jenkins Jr., but again, it’s far too early to make any substantive judgments.

Question: “Do you think keeping Kyle Whittingham silent on all injury information is really a competitive advantage? “- @utedaddy

A: College football coaches believe they are keeping state secrets when it comes to injuries. It’s pretty silly and it complicates the work of the media. (No one has ever been concerned that the media’s job is made difficult, but I digress.)

In Whittingham’s case, there have been times this season where he won’t answer an injury question directly, but he will guide you down the path and say enough where you can read between the lines. These cases have been rare lately, however.

I covered Rutgers when Chris Ash was the head coach. Ash’s tenure was an abomination, but one thing he said about injuries before playing a season with Urban Meyer’s coach in Ohio State stuck with me. I’ll paraphrase to discuss Utah.

It’s not Whittingham’s job to help his opponent prepare for Utah. Unless the NCAA or the Pac-12 require a weekly injury report, what does Whittingham gain from saying anything about who is injured?

I don’t blame Whittingham for being generally a mom over injuries, though that sometimes seems overkill.

Question: “What does the Maui Invitational selection process look like? Will the Runnin ‘Utes ever return to the field after joining the Pac-12? “- @ purdie44

A: Without going into all the nuances of how this stuff works, let’s say what television wants and having a positive working relationship are two things that contribute to what the field looks like on an annual basis.

Maui’s field this season is actually quite disappointing by its own standards, but 2022 will include Arkansas, Arizona, Louisville and Ohio State, while 2023 has signed Duke and Gonzaga.

Utah needs to be relevant enough to grab the attention of ESPN and Maui organizers. It is first, before anything else. What is your relevance? The one in Utah at the moment is non-existent.

As an example, several sources have told me in recent months that Iona College will be part of the Battle 4 Atlantis field in 2023. The Gaels are eternal contenders at MAAC, but they are relevant nationally because Rick Pitino is the head coach. This is how a program like Iona gets to a place like Maui or Atlantis.

Another point of reference: Utah was part of the original field of Battle 4 Atlantis in 2020 before COVID-19 changed things. I was told before COVID that then assistants Andy Hill and Tommy Connor had leveraged the relationships to help move this process forward, but in all fairness when those conversations likely started to take place, the ‘Utes weren’t that far from a five-year run. three NIT trips around two NCAA tournament appearances, including the Sweet 16 in 2015.

Question: “Basketball attendance is just sad. The team is performing well, but the atmosphere is not exciting at the moment. There’s not even a t-shirt toss. When purchasing tickets for the game, it seems like most seats are sold out, but in-person attendance is very low (even among students). What is the DA doing to try to get people to the seats? (And don’t even get me started on the price of concessions just yet). – @C_S_Man

A: It’s perfectly fair to say that interest in Utah men’s basketball eroded by the end of Larry Krystkowiak’s tenure, and that interest won’t return overnight.

The atmosphere in the arena is bad to start the season, there is no doubt about it. The average attendance in the first three games against Abilene Christian, Sacramento State and Bethune Cookman, according to the sports department, is 5,266. Uh, no, it isn’t. The actual Huntsman Center fan average is lower than that.

This early schedule isn’t exactly Murderers’ Row in terms of interest or competition, so try to get people to a game, especially on a Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (Sacramento State) or a Monday at 8 p.m. (Bethune Cookman) is a difficult task. question.

This new Utah staff has been handcuffed to some extent with the way they built their schedule, which is how you end up with two teams of over 300 KenPoms showing up in Salt Lake City.

I think the fact that there is a ton of interest in a good competitive soccer team may also have people who aren’t quite ready for basketball just yet. All eyes are on football, and that’s understandable.

Of course, continuing to win will help things, but moving forward, bringing a named opponent to town would help the cause as well. The Big Ten / ACC / Pac-12 alliance, which is set to debut as early as next season for basketball, could be a godsend in terms of early season interest in basketball.

Are you really mad that there was no t-shirt raffle. I sincerely hope you are, because it’s funny.


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