Utah linebacker Nephi Sewell (1) tackles Oregon running back Travis Dye, left, in the second half during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rose Bowl Berth on the Line in Pac-12 Championship

Although a spot for the playoffs is out of reach, a chance to win a conference championship and play in a New Year’s Six bowl is still on the line in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday. No. 10 Oregon (10-2, 7-2 Pac-12) takes on No. 17 Utah (9-3, 8-1 Pac-12) in a rematch of a game played on Nov. 20, in which the then-No. 23 Utes upset the then-No. 3 Ducks 38-7 in Salt Lake City.

Winner of the game will earn an automatic bid to the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 champion.

Oregon

The Pac-12 North division winner, Oregon comes into championship weekend looking to win their third-straight Pac-12 title. Since the conference expanded and began playing a championship game in 2011, the Ducks are winners of four Pac-12 Championship games and have 13 overall conference championships.

Oregon was long-considered to be a playoff contender, especially after upsetting then No. 3 Ohio State on Sept. 11. After starting the season 9-1 and sitting at No. 3 in the College Football Playoff poll, the Ducks lost to Utah, dropping them to No. 11 and officially knocking them out of playoff contention.

The next week, Oregon defeated rival Oregon State 38-29, officially giving them their third-straight North division championship.

Heading into the game, head coach Mario Cristobal says the team is looking forward to the opportunity to win another conference championship.

Utah

The Pac-12 South division winner, Utah has yet to win a Pac-12 championship since joining the conference in 2011. However, the Utes have played in the championship game in two of the last three seasons, losing to Oregon in 2019 and Washington in 2018.

The 2021 season started slow for the Utes after a 1-2 start that included a loss to rival BYU, snapping a nine-game win streak against the Cougars. Since then, they have rallied to win eight of their last nine games, including wins over then-No. 18 Arizona State on Oct. 16 and the upset victory over Oregon two weeks ago.

Not only did the Utes end Oregon’s playoff hopes, they clinched the South division and broke three different records.

That night, 52,724 people attended the game, breaking Utah’s attendance record. Additionally, running back Tavion Thomas broke the school record for touchdowns in a season with a 4-yard run in the first half. He finished the game with three scores and currently has 18 rushing touchdowns on the season.

Finally, head coach Kyle Whittingham became the university’s all-time winningest coach with 142 wins.

Cristobal called Utah an excellent football team and pointed out their physicality as a major trait of their program.

Pac-12 Championship

The Ducks and the Utes meet on the field at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 3 at 8:00 p.m. ET. The spread currently favors Utah at -2.5 with the over/under at 59.0 points. Additionally, ESPN’s football power index gives the Utes a 61.0% chance at winning Friday’s game. The winner will face the highest-ranked non-playoff Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Radio coverage can be found on ESPN 98.1 FM – 850 AM WRUF beginning after the Florida Gators volleyball’s match at approximately 8:30 p.m. Televised coverage will be held on ABC beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

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