ESPN College football Week 12: A guide to the biggest games

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        Ute Fan

        No. 10 Utah (8-2) at No. 12 Oregon (8-2) (Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN app)

        A week after squandering its playoff hopes following a heartbreaking loss to rival Washington at home, Oregon will try to recover with an arguably tougher matchup. The No. 12 Ducks welcome the No. 10 Utes, who have two losses (by a combined 13 points) but are playing some of their best football the past few weeks.

        Much was said about Dan Lanning’s decision to go for a fourth down late in the game with Bo Nix on the sideline (even Lanning said this week he wishes he would have called a timeout), but the real Achilles’ heel for the Ducks’ last game was their struggling defense, which has given up an average of 34 points to ranked opponents this season. Against the Utes — whose offense might not be as explosive as Washington’s but has been plenty effective — that will once again be the challenge.

        The X factor of that Utes offense will likely be tight end Dalton Kincaid, who torched the inconsistent USC defense but missed the game against Arizona two weeks ago after suffering a shoulder injury against Washington State. Kincaid (who is averaging 13 yards per catch) played a limited amount of snaps against Stanford last week and his status for this week’s matchup is still in flux.

        “He’s still not 100 percent, there’s some soreness,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “But he’s a lot further ahead today than he was last Monday.”

        Whittingham also heaped praise on Nix, who, despite the loss last Saturday, still had three touchdowns and completed 70% of his pass attempts. Nix still has a shot at perhaps jumping back into the Heisman conversation with another big game, especially if Oregon wins out. And the Ducks need to.

        Much like both L.A. schools playing on a big Saturday for the Pac-12, both Oregon and Utah are still in contention for the Pac-12 championship and subsequently, the Rose Bowl. The team on the losing end will have to wave goodbye to both. — Uggetti article

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