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Opponent Preview - Utah Utes (10/1)

Utah will look to avenge their lone 2021 conference loss

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Utah at Ohio State Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Utes

  • Head Coach: Kyle Whittingham (18th Season)
  • 2021 Record: 10-4 (8-1 in Pac-12)
  • Last Meeting: 10/23/2021 - Oregon State 42, Utah 34
  • Key Returners: QB - Cam Rising, RB - Tavion Thomas & CB - Clark Phillips

What to Know:

Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Utes have been a model of consistency and it all finally came together last season as they got over the hump and beat Oregon to win the Pac-12. Utah is not flashy, but they are always physical and they don’t beat themselves. Utah only lost one conference game last season and it was in Reser Stadium against the Beavs. ESPN’s FPI marks the game against Utah as Oregon State’s toughest game of 2022.

Utah is getting a lot of dark horse College Football Playoff hype going into the season and if they run the table they’ll get in. Their two toughest games are on the road (Florida & Oregon). They also play USC and SDSU at home. But putting together an unbeaten season is extremely difficult, let’s not forget that this team lost four games a year ago despite winning the conference.

Anyways onto what to expect, Utah returns 17 total starters (eight on offense, six on defense and all three specialists). Cam Rising (QB) and Tavion Thomas (RB) give Utah’s offense star-power in the backfield that they haven’t always have. Tavion Thomas (a former Cincinnati Bearcat) returns to Utah for his senior year after rushing for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns!

Utah is primarily a running team and they have a deep running back room behind Thomas including: Micah Bernard, Chris Curry (LSU transfer) and talented true freshman Jaylon Glover. The Utes could use a few more playmakers on the outside but they return two phenomenal tight ends in seniors Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid. The offensive line really came together last season, but there will be some shuffling as Utah looks to get their five best blockers on the field.

Utah always seems to have big-bodies and should be a force on both sides at the line of scrimmage. The bigger question is how will they replace starting linebackers Devin Lloyd and Nephi Sewell? The duo combined for an eye-popping 200 tackles! Lander Barton and Florida transfer Mohamoud Diabate look like the top contenders to replace Lloyd & Sewell. The secondary returns most of it’s production and at this point Utah’s defensive line is just going to be good no matter what under Whittingham.

Oregon State will look to stop the run and force Cam Rising to beat them with the deep ball. Offensively the Beavers will need another superhuman effort like they got in 2021 where they rushed for 260 yards (6.3 YPC). Another big special teams play wouldn’t hurt either.

Player To Watch

Tavion Thomas- Running Back

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X - Ohio State v Utah Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

After a truly impressive junior season Tavion Thomas is back to accomplish big things with Utah. He lead the team with 204 carries for 1,108 yards and a school record 21 touchdowns. That’s more touchdowns than B.J. Baylor had in his college career. The only way to beat Utah is to line up and match their physicality and Oregon State will have their work cut out in Salt Lake City.


This should be a physical grind it out game in Salt Lake City. Oregon State wants to play just like Utah did last season, Chance Nolan and Cam Rising have a lot of similarities as quarterbacks. Utah’s depth on the defensive/offensive line will be the difference. Utah grinds out a win at home, 27-21. If my predictions pan out this would drop Oregon State below .500 (2-3); but the schedule gets a lot easier in the 2nd half of the season.

Game Info

  • Date: Saturday, October 1st
  • Time: TBD
  • Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium (Salt Lake City, Utah)

2022 Opponent Previews