It's week three of the college football season. The Ducks host Tennessee, while the Beavers head for Salt Lake City to face Utah. Time for PREDICTIONS.
Tennessee vs. Oregon
Tom: This one will be a tougher test for the Ducks, but they’re still a 27 point favorite over the Volunteers. The key matchup is Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley vs. the Oregon defense. The Ducks already have eight sacks and six turnovers in the two games against Virginia and Nicholls, and they’ll be facing a quarterback making just his second start on the road. Junior Justin Worley has thrown four touchdown passes and just one interception, but averages just 123 yards passing per game. Look for the Ducks to get after Worley big time, and possibly even force a couple of early turnovers. Volunteer fans would point to the statistics, and say the UT leads the nation in turnovers forced, with nine, but seven of those came against a hapless Western Kentucky team at Neyland Stadium. Furthermore, the Vols haven’t beaten a ranked team in nearly four years, and they’ll have to wait a little longer after this one. Oregon 47, Tennessee 19
Collin: Tennessee plays your typical SEC-style of football --- run the ball and play good defense. The Vols thrive off turnovers, and they forced 7 of them last week against Western Kentucky, but Oregon has yet to turn the ball over this season. Tennessee is enormous on the line, but what the Ducks lack in size, they make up for with speed. A fast tempo combined with the rotation in the backfield of Thomas, Marshall and Tyner will gas the Vols defense by halftime. I think Tennessee hangs around in the first half, but Oregon runs away with it down the stretch, heading into their bye week and the conference portion of their schedule 3-0. Oregon 38, Tennessee 17
John: The Ducks will wrap up a perfect non-conference schedule when they hand an embarrassing loss to a team from the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee will be thinking upset this week when the Volunteers invade Autzen, but the Ducks will end any thought of a potential upset early. In their first two games this season, Oregon has started fast and strong. There is no reason to believe that won’t be the case again. While the Volunteers will bring a 2-0 record into this game, remember that those wins came against Austin Peay and Western Kentucky. Tennessee has done little to prove they are back among the elite of college football. The Volunteers haven’t been to a bowl since 2010 and while they may be on the rise and improving, they are too young to be considered in the same echelon as the Ducks. Marcus Mariota and company have a fun day on offense and the Oregon defense will feast on a quarterback making his first start on the road since 2011. Oregon 63, Tennessee 10
Craig: The SEC and all the aura that comes with it rolls into Autzen Stadium not ready for the Ducks. Last week, Marcus Mariota and company played well but, as they said all week, not "perfect." I believe the Ducks’ coaching staff makes the necessary adjustments to get as close to perfection as possible. Running back Byron Marshall gets back on track and establishes himself early and often on the ground. The Oregon defense continues to force turnovers and play downhill football. Ultimately, the Autzen crowd is too much too handle for the Volunteers and the Ducks slide into their BYE week as healthy as possible. Oregon 42, Tennessee 17
Oregon St. vs. Utah
Tom: There are quite a few factors that make this one a tough call. For starters, OSU linebacker Michael Doctor is out of this one with a broken foot, as the Beaver defense continues to try to find its identity early in the season. Hawaii’s offensive attack, and particularly the play of the Warriors’ quarterbacks, was not very good against Oregon State, so I don’t think you can draw a lot from the Beavs’ win over UH. Furthermore, the Utes and Beavers have split the eight games played in Salt Lake in the all-time series, but Utah has won the last three games when hosting OSU. Factor in the Utah offense now feeling good and confident about rolling up Weber State 70-7, and add the fact that it is homecoming, and the deck doesn’t stack up in Oregon State’s favor. Sean Mannion will play another great game, but will the OSU defense be able to stop Utah quarterback Travis Wilson? Utah 34, Oregon St. 29
Collin: After a rebound performance by the Beavers defense in their win over Hawaii, a tough test awaits in Salt Lake City. Travis Wilson leads a very balanced Utah offense that is averaging 50 points per game. Sean Mannion has been impressive in his two games as the starter this season and will continue his solid play, but the lack of production in the run game will come back to bite OSU. I think it’s a shootout at Rice-Eccles, but playing at home gives the Utes the edge in this one. Oregon State 31, Utah 34
John: Now things get serious for the Beavers. We will find out if their week 1 loss to FCS Eastern Washington was a fluke or if this team has some serious issues when Oregon State opens up conference play at Utah. The Beavers did a good job bouncing back against a scrappy Hawaii team, but they will need to take their intensity to a higher level for this Pac-12 showdown. Utah will look to take advantage of a Beaver defense riddled by injuries. The 2 and oh Utes are coming off a 70 point outburst against Weber State. They won’t score that many this week, but they will keep things close. Oregon St. 26 Utah 24
Craig: The Beavers defense is injury riddled this week. Senior linebacker Michael Doctor is gone and junior linebacker D.j. Alexander is returning from an MCL strain. Although Alexander gives them a boost, I’m not too sure he’ll have a great impact. He hasn’t played a down this season and getting in game shape always takes at least two games. Freshman Cyril Noland-Lewis moves from safety down into the box and Darrell Songy is still questionable with a concussion. All of these factors lead me to believe the Beavs’ D won’t be quite on point, but I don’t think Utah is a good enough team to blow Oregon State out of the water. It’s close, but the Utes win at home. Utah 27, Oregon St. 24.
Last week, once again, the guys in the sports office showed their football expertise and picked both games correctly. Tom was again the closest to the correct scores, and now leads the overall points race by two.
1. Tom: 3-1 (5), 2. Collin: 3-1 (3), 3. John: 3-1 (3), 4. Craig: 3-1 (3) What do you think will go down this weekend? You can let us know in a variety of ways.