The Pac-12 likely will again miss the College Football Playoff after No. 25 Utah blew away No. 5 Oregon 38-7 with a dominating performance that showed in all three phases of the game Saturday night.
The Ducks never mounted a challenge as the Utes jumped out to a 28-0 lead at halftime and cruised to an easy victory behind a raucous crowd that seemed to unsettle the Ducks.
Utah got 94 yards and three touchdowns on the ground from Tavion Thomas and opportunistic passing from quarterback Cam Rising, who won for his sixth time in seven games since being installed as the starting quarterback. The win locked up a berth in the Pac-12 title game for the Utes. The Ducks will be their opponent if they beat Oregon State next week.
Defensively, the Utes shut down Oregon’s 11th-ranked rushing attack, holding the Ducks to just 63 yards on the ground and 2.7 yards per carry. The Ducks, who hadn’t scored fewer than 24 points this season, never could get untracked throwing the ball with their usually dominant run game stalled. It was their lowest-scoring game since the 2018 Redbox Bowl.
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Oregon was hopeful of being the first Pac-12 team to make the playoff since 2016. The path seemed straightforward. Beating Utah and Oregon State in the final two weeks of the regular season would set up a likely rematch with the Utes that would send the Ducks to the semifinals with a win.
Now with two losses, the Ducks need some serious help that seems unrealistic in the final two weeks. Losses by Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are probably required to get back in position after an expected fall from No. 3 in the committee rankings when they are released Tuesday.
It didn’t take long for Utah to put its stamp on the game. The Utes opened the scoring on their second possession with a 63-yard drive that did not include a completed pass. Thomas scored a 10-yard touchdown on a third-and-8 right through the middle of the Oregon defense.
Very little went right in a miserable first half for the Ducks as they missed two field goals at the end of promising drives. Camden Lewis, who had made all 10 of his attempts this season, had his first try from 36 yards blocked. His second from 41 yards was wide right.
After the second miss with 2:02 left in the half, there were some fireworks left. Utah needed just six plays to drive 77 yards for a touchdown that ended with Thomas scoring on a 4-yard run.
Oregon could have run out the clock before opting to try and cut its deficit in the final minute. The Utes got a third-down stop and called timeout, forcing a punt which was retuned 78 yards by Britton Covey for a touchdown on the final play of the half.
The Ducks got on the scoreboard with an Anthony Brown touchdown pass to Devon Williams on their first drive of the second half, but their momentum couldn’t be sustained. Utah got another touchdown from Thomas and led 35-7 starting the fourth quarter.
Follow colleges reporter Erick Smith on Twitter @ericksmith