Week 8 - Utah at Oregon State

Posted Oct 18, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction & Game Analysis - Utah at Oregon State

Utah (2-4) at Oregon State (5-0) Oct. 20, 10:30, ESPN

Here’s The Deal: If you liked Oregon State after its early upsets over Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona, you had to absolutely love the team a week ago. The Beavers traveled to Provo to face one of the hottest defenses in the country … without starting QB Sean Mannion. The party is over, right? Not yet. In a testament to the resiliency and fight of Mike Riley’s team, Oregon State soared past BYU with a big fourth quarter, leaning on first-time starter Cody Vaz. All the way up to No. 8 in the initial BCS rankings, the Beavs are determined to remain a threat in the Pac-12 North race … at a minimum.

Utah is fading quickly, and will need a reversal similar to last year’s just to extend its streak of nine consecutive years with a postseason game. The Utes used a new quarterback of their own, true freshman Travis Wilson, but lost their third straight conference game.

Why Utah Might Win: Their offense tanking, the Utes will have to lean on the defense for help. The majority of the team’s stars, such as DT Star Lotulelei, LB Trevor Reilly and SS Brian Blechen, reside on that side of the ball. They’ve been rugged against the run, and have generally kept the ball in front of them. Plus, as well as Vaz played a week ago, he is still the second best quarterback in Corvallis. Plus, the sprained knee that could keep RB Storm Woods on the sidelines cannot be overstated. He’s a key piece on the offensive puzzle who won’t be easily replaced.

Why Oregon State Might Win: Utah is having all kinds of problems moving the ball, a shortcoming that isn’t likely to be resolved at Reser Stadium. The play of the defense has been one of many Oregon State surprises in this rather improbable start. The Beavers rank fourth in the country versus the run, allowing less than three yards a carry, which will neutralize Utes top weapon John White. The fate of the visiting offense could hinge on the development of Wilson, who’ll conceivably be improved in his second start. However, each of Oregon State’s five opposing quarterbacks has had to contend with two major impediments to success, DE Scott Crichton and CB Jordan Poyer. Crichton will flush Wilson from the pocket, and Poyer will cut off half the field on him.

What To Watch Out For: Vaz was nothing less than amazing in his starting debut, going 20-of-32 for 332 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. He was relatively well protected, which was a key, but he also exhibited uncommon poise for a player who’d yet to even make an appearance this fall. Can he build on that effort against another team from the Beehive State? Why not? The D won’t be as ornery, nor will the crowd, and having access to wideouts Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton will help raise the confidence of any hurler.

What Will Happen: If Oregon State didn’t stumble under trying circumstances last week, it won’t in a return back home this week. Riley was right when he labeled Vaz 1A to Mannion, a quarterback with which the team can win. He’ll pick up where he left off, though no Woods will hamper this offense. Utah’s biggest concern will be solving a fast and frenetic Beavers defense. The 6-6 Wilson has a bright future in Salt Lake City. It just might not be especially evident on the road Saturday night.

CFN Prediction: Oregon State 31 … Utah 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Oregon State -10.5 O/U: 47
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 2.5