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One team hasn't lost a Pac-12 opener since 2005, the other hasn't won a Pac-12 opener. Ever.

We could run through the list of things that separate No. 13 Oregon and No. 18 Utah, but that's probably instructive enough.

Few doubt that Utah has closed the gap since joining the conference in 2011. Were it not for Kaelin Clay's blunder, dropping the ball to celebrate before crossing the goal line, the Utes would've led the Ducks 14-0 in November 2014. They later closed to within three during the fourth quarter, before the dream died with three straight Oregon scores.

The Ducks are no longer led by Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, while Utah returns most of the key players from the team that stood toe-to-toe with Oregon for three quarters.

Can they do it for four?

They've shocked a No. 5 Stanford and a No. 8 UCLA.

But a No. 13 Oregon, in Eugene, somehow feels like a taller order.

Time, Place and [Radio Waves in] Space • Kickoff is 6:45 p.m. MT at 54,000-capacity Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore., which has sold out 105 consecutive times. The game will air on FOX (yes, the FOX, not FOX Sports One), called by Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt and Molly McGrath, the same crew that visited Salt Lake City for Utah's opener against Michigan. The Utes are 1-1 all-time on FOX, beating Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl and losing to UCLA in 2012. Listen on the radio at ESPN 700 with Bill Riley, Frank Dolce and Bo Nagahi. Satellite listeners should tune to Sirius 126 or XM 198.

Line • Oregon -11.5, over/under 64.5

Opposing Coach • Now in his third year after taking the reins from Chip Kelly, Mark Helfrich is 26-5 and took Oregon to the championship game last season. A former quarterback at Southern Oregon and later coaching disciple of Dirk Koetter, the 41-year-old Helfrich coached quarterbacks at Boise State, Arizona State and Colorado (where he was also OC) before joining Oregon as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator under Kelly in 2009.

Utah Ties • There are fewer than usual, due in part to Oregon's uniquely far-flung recruiting network, but the Ducks touched on a Utah hotbed when they landed redshirt freshman running back Tony Brooks-James from Gainesville High. Brooks-James graduated in the same class as Utah sophomore wideout Kenric Young, and the two have been close friends since elementary school. Utah's lone Oregonian is sophomore safety Evan Eggiman, from Hillsboro. Oregon freshman cornerback Jihree Stewart is the half-brother of former Ute and current San Francisco 49ers wideout Dres Anderson.

Pregame Quotable • Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, who gets amped by listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, on his 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Fresno State: "The only time [defensive linemen] get a chance to score is in video games. That was probably a 9-flat 40 on Saturday. I think the shock slowed me down."

Media Guide Nuggets • Utah has beaten Oregon four times in Eugene, but Utah's last win at Autzen Stadium came in 1994, when Kyle Whittingham was in his first year on Utah's staff. Oregon has beaten Utah six of seven times overall since 1995.

Telling Stat • Both teams are firmly in the black when it comes to turnover margin. Utah has forced eight while turning it over just four times, and Oregon has been the beneficiary eight times and the donor just four. Two of those —¬†Vernon Adams interceptions — came in the Ducks' 31-28 loss at No. 2 Michigan State.

Ducks Offensive Outlook • Many, many teams have tried to emulate the Oregon formula, but none have succeeded to the extent that Kelly and Helfrich have in recent years.

Over the last five seasons, the Ducks have the most passing touchdowns (186) and the second-most rushing touchdowns (227) in the nation.

Even without Mariota, the Ducks are averaging an even 50 points, their NCAA record streak of consecutive games with a passing touchdown still alive at 71.

So, chew on that for a minute.

Helfrich said it would be "right up until the end of the week" before coaches decided whether to start Adams or junior Jeff Lockie, but Utah has prepared with the expectation that it will see Adams.

Now 29-7 as a starter, Adams has thrown for 10.993 yards and 113 passing touchdowns while rushing for 12 scores in three years at Eastern Washington and two games at Oregon.

He's an accurate thrower and an agile runner, and he's at his most dangerous when he escapes the pocket and throws on the run. Downfield, he'll have plenty of options between Byron Marshall (27 career touchdowns), 6-foot-5 Dwayne Stanford (Oregon's leading receiver in two of three games) and dynamic playmaker Bralon Addison (seven catches for 138 yards at Michigan State).

Their bread and butter, though, is the zone read rushing attack.

With right guard Cameron Hunt expected back after sitting out against Georgia State, the Ducks feature experienced starters at every position on the line, including Notre Dame transfer center Matt Hegarty and junior left tackle Tyler Johnstone.

Behind them, a bevy of talented runners, led by 230-pound sophomore Royce Freeman, who rushed for 1,365 yards as a true freshman and has 373 on 55 carries this season.

Utah has held opponents to 106 yards on the ground, second-best in the Pac-12, but the Ducks enter this game averaging a whopping 306.

Ducks Defensive Outlook • Oregon is dead last in the conference in passing defense (316 yards per game), pass efficiency defense (145.4), total defense (456 yards per game) and scoring defense (33.7 points per game).

But there's always the caveat with Oregon that their defensive statistics can be misleading. As fast as they play, they're simply on the field more often.

A better measure of a defense's effectiveness is yards per play, which at 5.9 is not great, but it's not far off the norm for Oregon (Utah concedes an average of 5.3).

When you consider also that Oregon's 35 non-offensive TDs (including special teams) since 2010 are the most in the nation, and that junior safety Tyree Robinson and senior linebacker Joe Walker continued the trend with defensive scores against Georgia State, they don't look so bad, after all.

Senior inside linebacker Rodney Hardrick will make his 31st start, fellow senior Christian French led the team last year with 6.5 sacks from his outside linebacker post, and junior Reggie Daniels provides experience in a young, talented secondary.

Up front, senior defensive end DeForest Buckner is on every imaginable watchlist and might be a top-10 pick in next year's NFL draft. Between Bucker (6'7), Tui Talia (6'5), Alex Balducci (6'4), T.J. Daniel (6'6), Henry Mondeaux (6'5) and Canton Kaumatule (6'7), the Duck defensive line again looks as much like a muscle-bound college basketball lineup.

Still the Ducks have recorded just five sacks this season —¬†which, given that they've played an FCS opponent and Georgia State, is disconcerting from their perspective — and Utah's offensive line has allowed just one.

Ducks Special Teams Outlook • Rarely does Utah meet its match on special teams, but the Ducks excel here.

Addison burned the Spartans on an 81-yard punt return and has taken three to the house for his career — it would have been four if a penalty hadn't nixed a 2013 return against Utah.

Backup place-kicker Jake Ford, an Australian, has reportedly been giving Oregon's punt returners a taste of what to expect from Tom Hackett's rugby-style kicks.

In coverage, Oregon hasn't allowed an opponent to return a punt or kick for a score in 100 games, dating back to November 2007.

And sophomore kicker Aidan Schneider has made 10 straight field goals and is 17-of-18 in his career, including a perfect 5-for-5 from 40-plus yards.

Required Reading

Injury Report • Senior quarterback Travis Wilson sprained his shoulder against Utah State and is expected to be able to play after suiting up the previous week against Fresno State. The status of senior wideout Tim Patrick is unknown. True freshman running back Marcel Brooks-Brown is expected to be out for weeks yet, while sophomore guard Lo Falemaka may miss the remainder of the season with gunshot wounds. Senior tight end Evan Moeai (lower leg) and redshirt freshman Troy McCormick (knee) are also lost for the season. Senior cornerback Ahmad Christian remains out after tearing his Achilles during winter conditioning.

For Oregon, Adams has a broken index finger on his throwing hand that he played through against Michigan State and most recently rated as "80 percent." True freshman quarterback Travis Jonsen will redshirt after season-ending medical procedure, while shoulder surgery ended the season for running back Thomas Tyner before it began. Tight end Pharaoh Brown remains out after injury his leg at Rice-Eccles Stadium last season.

Three Big Questions

1. Can Utah force mistakes from Oregon's offense? • Without key interceptions, Utah might've lost to both Michigan and Utah State at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Their odds of beating Oregon in Eugene without an advantage in the turnover column are extremely slim, and to force turnovers at the rate they have been (2.7 per game), they likely need to apply more pressure on the quarterback than they have so far (three sacks in 2015). Whittingham said Monday that they've been trying to get pressure more often this season with just the four down linemen, but don't be surprised to see Utah blitz more frequently against the Ducks.

2. Can Utah establish the run early? • Whittingham bemoaned the line's lack of push in the first half against Michigan, and Utah saw improved efforts against Utah State and Fresno State. But even last week, against a Mountain West team, it took frequent doses of Booker up the middle to soften the Bulldog front. While alternating with Oregon's high-octane attack, Utah can't afford to spend three or four drives building toward full speed.

3. Who's at quarterback? • It's "Three Big Questions," not "Three Unique Questions." The expectation is that this game will pit senior Travis Wilson against senior Vernon Adams, and both adds an element to his team's offense that seems to be lacking when Kendal Thompson and Jeff Lockie take the reins. But will Wilson be hampered by the soreness in his non-throwing shoulder, or will Adams be limited the the broken finger on his throwing hand? If so, neither Thompson nor Lockie are strangers to live action.

— Matthew Piper

mpiper@sltrib.com

Twitter: @matthew_piper