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For weeks, Utah has been playing in a series of must-win games in its quest to repeat as Pac-12 champs.

The toughest test comes Saturday when the No. 10 Utes take on No. 12 Oregon at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

“It’s a tough place to play. It’s loud. It’s always packed. The crowd is always into it. It’s a hostile environment.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on playing at Autzen Stadium

Utah hasn’t played there since 2017, so its current players haven’t experienced Autzen.

But, of course, coach Kyle Whittingham has. What memories does he have about that venue?

“There’s been some good and some bad. We’ve played really well up there. Then we’ve had some tough outings up there. It’s a tough place to play. It’s loud. It’s always packed,” he said this week. “The crowd is always into it. It’s a hostile environment. That’s something that we have to handle as well. We’ve gotta to be good at handling the adversity as far as the stadium, the noise and the crowd.”

The Utes lost that 2017 game at Oregon 41-20. Two years earlier, Utah crushed the Ducks 62-20 at Autzen Stadium.

Utah has been preparing for the noise this week, just like it did before the season-opener at The Swamp in Gainesville, Florida.

If the Utes can win Saturday, they will be one victory away from reaching the Pac-12 championship game for the fourth time in five seasons.

In case you missed it

Utah climbed in the College Football Playoff rankings again Tuesday. Since the first rankings were released on Nov. 1, the Utes have jumped from No. 14 to No. 10.

That marks Utah’s highest CFP ranking since 2019, when it reached the No. 5 spot. At the time, the Utes were considered a contender to make the playoff before falling to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

The Pac-12 has six teams ranked for the first time since 2016. Utah has more CFP ranking appearances than any other Pac-12 program — 38.

Numbers game

42.2: Average points per game generated by Oregon’s offense this season, No. 4 nationally.

239.9: Average rushing yards per game generated by Oregon’s offense this season, No. 9 nationally.

528.2: Average total offense per game generated by Oregon’s offense this season, No. 2 nationally.

From the archives

Related
What Oregon coach Dan Lanning thinks about Kyle Whittingham, the Utes program and QB Cam Rising
‘It’s great to see him back’: Tavion Thomas’ return comes at opportune time as Utah visits Oregon
‘We gotta win’: Utah set to visit wounded Oregon this weekend with much at stake

Extra points

  • ‘It’s great to see him back’: Tavion Thomas’ return comes at opportune time as Utah visits Oregon (Deseret News)
  • How Utah and Oregon compare in the latest power rankings heading into their big game (Deseret News)
  • Strong finish propels Runnin’ Utes to tougher-than-it-looks 70-58 win over visiting Idaho State (Deseret News)
  • On a night of Pac-12 chaos, No. 13 Utah throttles Stanford (Deseret News)
  • Why there were several juniors and sophomores that participated in Utah’s Senior Night festivities (Deseret News)
  • ‘It’s just horrific’: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham offers condolences, empathizes with tragic deaths at Virginia (Deseret News)

Fanalyst

This is a great plus going up to Oregon. If the Utes can run the ball, and they should be able to, that changes things for Rising and his receivers. Indeed, the key in this game could well be Utah’s ability to run, and to stymie the Duck’s ground game. Do those two things and keep Nix in the pocket and you are half way home. Next team up...Oregon!!! Go Utes!!!

— stathis

That USC game is always going to be one of the all time games for Ute football. That level of willpower when everything was against them in outside forces and that will power was one of the most amazing games I have seen period and I can’t be convinced otherwise.

Thought the U would pull away in the 3rd and they did against a program that has gone to garbage. Washington got lucky by a slip from a R.B. yet it still gives one hope. Takes down the hope for a playoff from that upset, dog eats dog, yet still I know the U staff and Whitt are going to see every weakness in that game film. Still think they lose but will see. That place is rough to win in.

Pac-12 is getting interesting. That Florida loss still stings to start the season as horrid as they are but on to this game. Have been to Eugene. For the U of U fans going there, have some fun. Might go myself, why not? Been a long time.

But UCLA losing at home from a wide open W.R. at the end that hurts. PAC-12 though is great this year.

— Suttree

Up next

Nov. 16 | 7 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Oklahoma | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network

Nov. 17 | 7 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Sam Houston | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Mountain

Nov. 18 | 8 p.m. | Volleyball | vs. Washington State | @Pullman | Pac-12 Mountain

Nov. 19 | 8:30 p.m. | Football | vs. Oregon | @Eugene, Oregon | ESPN

Nov. 20 | 1 p.m. | Volleyball | vs. Washington | @Seattle | Pac-12 Mountain

Nov. 21 | 12:30 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. Alabama | @Salt Lake City | FloHoops

Nov. 21 | 4 p.m. | Men’s basketball | vs. Georgia Tech | @Ft. Myers, Florida | FS1

Utah players celebrate a score against Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. The two teams look to stay in the hunt for a conference title Saturday when they meet in Eugene. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News