- Kyle Bonagura, ESPN Staff Writer
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When the transitive property starts getting thrown around in sports, ridiculousness can ensue.
Eastern Washington beat Oregon State, which beat Utah. Therefore, the mighty Eagles would beat Utah, so it says. Now, maybe that's true, maybe it isn't, but the elementary logic used to reach that conclusion is by no means definitive.
Taking it further: Utah beat Stanford, which beat Oregon. Therefore?
Therefore nothing, really, except: "I guess psychologically that could be a little bit of a positive," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Tuesday in advance of Saturday's trip to Autzen Stadium to play No. 6 Oregon.
Utah's 27-21 win over Stanford last month gives credibility to a team that might not have it otherwise. For Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, that game overshadows the fact that it is the Utes' only conference win.
"We need to know nothing more than they beat Stanford and did a great job in that game," Helfrich said.
Since then, Utah has dropped three straight, matching the second-longest losing streak in Whittingham's tenure.
"We've been able to stand toe to toe with the best teams in the Pac-12, but nobody cares about being close," Whittingham said. "Obviously Stanford was a big win, but we've struggled a little bit since then."
A date with Oregon doesn't figure to help right the ship, especially as the Ducks look to bounce back following their crushing loss to Stanford last week. Oregon hasn't lost consecutive games during a season since 2007, when Chip Kelly was in his first year as the school's offensive coordinator. In the two previous seasons, Oregon has responded to its three losses with wins by an average of 33.7 points.
Other than the extra prep time due to last week's Thursday game, Helfrich said it's been business as usual in Eugene.
"Just like in a win, you evaluate, hey why did this work? Why did this not work?" he said. "Maybe it was luck, maybe it was scheme, maybe it was our execution? How can we coach this better?"
The only major change Helfrich made public was the fact that the platoon at kicker between senior Alejandro Maldonado and true freshman Matt Wogan is over. Wogan handled all the place-kicking duties against Stanford and will continue to do so moving forward.
Wogan connected on his only field-goal attempt of the season, a 38-yarder against Tennessee, and has been good on 30-of-31 extra points. Maldonado was 3-for-5 on field goals and 29-of-30 on extra points but admitted publicly he's struggled with confidence.
“It comes down to nothing more, nothing less, than we think [Wogan] gives us the best chance to make a kick," Helfrich said. “He’s done a better job."