Utes expecting a battle against #3 Oregon


SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It’s the game of the year in the Pac-12 Conference.

#23 Utah welcomes in #3 Oregon to Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday night in what could very well be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship Game in Las Vegas next month.

Britain Covey, who has had many battles against the Ducks dating back to 2015, knows how big of a game this is.

“I can think back on all of the years that I’ve played of one or two particular games where it had this kind of atmosphere,” Covey said. “Even going into the week and we’re really going to do our best to block that out. But that gives you energy come game day. I’ve played in enough of these to know that that really does have an effect on you, so I’m excited for that.”

T.J. Pledger, who filled in for the injured Tavion Thomas and rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns last week against Arizona, is getting his first taste of the Utah-Oregon rivalry.

“This is what we grind for all throughout the winter, through the summer, to be able to play for something meaningful at this time of year,” Pledger said.

The atmosphere at Rice-Eccles Stadium should be as electric as it has ever been. The highest ranked team Utah has ever beaten at home was #5 Stanford back in 2013. So a win over the Ducks on Saturday could go down as one of the biggest in school history.

With a win, Utah (7-3) would clinch the Pac-12 South title an play in the conference championship game for the third time.

“I feel like you get one game like this per season where you just know it’s going to be rocking in Rice-Eccles,” Covey said. Something to look forward to so I’m pumped.”

“Oregon coming up, a good football team, really good football team, top 4 or 3 in the nation, tons of talent across the board,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham

This will be the best team Utah faces all year, but they don’t plan to prepare any differently for the Ducks than they do for any other team.

“Nope, we treat them all the same,” Whittingham said. “We prepare the exact same way, meeting structure, practice structure, everything, and that’s how you have to do it in the Pac-12. Because if you don’t, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing. You’re going to get beat if you’re not ready to go, so we approach it the exact same way every single week.”

Utah and Oregon will kickoff at 5:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC4.

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