Oregon, Utah, and Championship Weekend

by Kevin Nesgoda

The 13th-ranked Oregon Ducks (10-2, 1st in Pac-12 North) will face the No. 5 Utah Utes (11-1, 1st in Pac-12 South) in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday, December 5th at 5:00 p.m. PT at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

This game has College Football Playoff implications for the Utes, who find themselves in prime position to jump No. 4 Georgia should the Bulldogs lose to No. 1 LSU in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday. Let’s take a look at Oregon’s possible bowl game matchups.

Where are we going? Who will we play?

For the Ducks, the goal is simple: win this game, and an automatic Rose Bowl berth awaits as winners of the Pac-12. Lose and the options open up a bit: If Utah ends up in the Playoff, Oregon would still go to the Rose Bowl as the next-best Pac-12 team. If Utah beats Oregon but doesn’t make the Playoff—maybe Georgia wins and keeps their No. 4 spot or the Utes are passed by Oklahoma or Baylor—then Kyle Wittingham’s squad would be headed to Pasadena and the Ducks would find themselves in the Alamo Bowl.

The Rose Bowl opponent would be the best Big Ten (stylized: B1G) team available. Since current No. 1 Ohio State is a lock for the Playoff if they win the B1G Championship Game against Wisconsin, the bid would go to the next-highest-ranked B1G team. That’s currently No. 8 Wisconsin, although the Badgers may drop below No. 10 Penn State with a loss to Ohio State. Of course, a win in that game would put the two-loss Badgers in the Rose Bowl. At this point, I’d say the most likely Rose Bowl opponent would be Penn State.

Should Oregon go to the Alamo Bowl, they would face an team from the Big 12 (B12). The B12’s bowl priorities are the Playoff, then Sugar, then Alamo. If the winner of the Oklahoma-Baylor conference championship leaps Utah for the Playoff, the Ducks would play the third-best B12 team, which is currently No. 25 Oklahoma State. If Georgia or Utah takes the final playoff spot, the loser of Oklahoma-Baylor would go to the Alamo and the winner would go to the Sugar Bowl.

Review: Oregon’s (realistic) bowl matchups

  • Rose vs Penn State
  • Rose vs Wisconsin
  • Alamo vs Oklahoma
  • Alamo vs Baylor
  • Alamo vs Oklahoma State


Still with me? Need a bathroom break? Glass of water? Ok, let’s continue.

Conference Championship Games: Who do we want to win?

Here’s a guide for who to root for in all the other Power 5 conference championship games, in order of occurrence. All times are Pacific.

Big 12: #6 Oklahoma vs #7 Baylor – Saturday at 9 a.m. on ABC – Arlington, TX

Ducks won? Root for Baylor. If Utah’s out of the playoff, we don’t really care who takes their place, but we’d prefer it isn’t Oklahoma, who has a better shot than Baylor (based on pedigree and quality of loss). We don’t want a B12 team in the playoff so that the Utes play one of these two teams in the Alamo.

Ducks lost? Root for Baylor. The Bears are less likely to jump Utah, and if Oregon loses to Utah we want a Pac-12 team in the playoff so we can go to the Rose Bowl. If we get stuck in the Alamo Bowl, I’d rather play one of these teams in a competitive game than Oklahoma State.

SEC: #2 LSU vs #4 Georgia – Saturday at 1 p.m. on CBS – Atlanta, GA

Ducks won? Root for UGA. A Georgia win would most likely keep the Bulldogs in the playoff over the B12 champion. If we knock out Utah, they will be in the Alamo Bowl, and it’s better for the conference if they’re facing Oklahoma or Baylor.

Ducks lost? Root for LSU. If we lose, we want Utah in the playoff, and they won’t leap a potential SEC-champion-Georgia. Having Utah is good for the conference and puts us in the Rose Bowl.

ACC: #3 Clemson vs #23 Virginia – Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on ABC – Charlotte, NC

Ducks won? Root for Clemson. Following the same logic as the SEC matchup: if we eliminate Utah, we want the playoff solidified to cause more enticing Alamo Bowl matchups. I know it’s hard rooting against the underdogs, but in all seriousness, this is what’s best for us.

Ducks lost? Root for Virginia. Clemson is a four-touchdown favorite in this one, but on the off-chance they lose, it would open up the playoff picture and give us a better shot at the Rose Bowl.

BIG 10: #1 Ohio State vs #8 Wisconsin (Saturday at 5:00 p.m. on FOX)

Ducks won? Root for Ohio State. Again, I know it’s hard to root for Ohio State, but we want the Pac-12’s best to prove themselves this bowl season. Our hypothetical Rose Bowl opponent will be a good team, whether that’s Wisconsin or Penn State.

Ducks lost? Root for Ohio State. Utah’s not getting in over a 0- or 1-loss Ohio State, but a B12-champion Oklahoma might!

Let’s just beat Utah

…and go to the Rose Bowl! Regardless of what happens on Friday, though, this has already been a successful season. Of course I don’t wanna end up in the Alamo Bowl, but 10 wins is something to be proud of.

Did I miss anything? Do you agree with my reasoning that we should play the best team we can? I definitely believe we would compete with any team listed in the options above. What matchup would you like to see most? Maybe a Danny O’Neil Rose Bowl against Penn State? Wisconsin part 2? Give me your opinion in the comments or on Twitter (@folkestad3).

As always, thanks for reading and GO DUCKS!

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