Utah Football’s Title Defense on the Ropes After Loss at Oregon


Jack Gambassi

University of Utah Football QB Cam Rising (#7) during the NCAA football game versus the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 at Rice-Eccles Stadium on campus in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The University of Utah football team dropped a heartbreaking slugfest between Pac-12 heavyweights in Autzen Stadium against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday night.

Utah had a rough first half, with four drives ending in just three points. They lost three possessions in three different ways, with a missed field goal, interception and turnover on downs. Utah moved the ball well, racking up 134 yards in the first half, but were not able to capitalize on three drives into Ducks territory, coming away with only three points. 

Oregon stopped Utah on fourth-and-three on the Ducks’ 11-yard line, which was the defining play of the first half. The Utes were looking to cut the deficit to 14-10, but instead Oregon took over on downs, aired out a deep pass from Bo Nix to Dont’e Thornton for 58 yards to set up a field goal to end the half. That made it 17-3, with the Utes trailing by two touchdowns entering the break. A big deficit, but the game was certainly not out of reach by that point in the night. Utah knew they needed to win this game to improve their chances at getting to the Pac-12 Championship following USC’s victory over UCLA.

Things started off as well as you could hope for, with Ducks backup Ty Thompson entering the game for Nix on Oregon’s first drive in the second half. Thompson and Thornton fumbled the handoff, which ended up in the hands of Karene Reid for Utah’s first touchdown of the evening. A huge swing play to open the second half brought the Utes within one score.

The Utah defense continued to come up big in the second half, sacking Nix and forcing the Ducks to punt following a second Cameron Rising interception. The offense embarked on a seven-minute, 13-play drive capped off by a Jaylen Dixon touchdown to even the game at 17-17. Utah came to play in the second half, as they needed to stay in this game and get themselves to the Pac-12 Title.

Oregon drove down and got a field goal out of it to go up 20-17 at the start of the fourth quarter. Utah moved the ball down deep into Oregon territory in response, and found themselves facing fourth-and-two. Rather than kicking the field goal to tie, they went for the conversion. Rising threw a pass to Dalton Kincaid that was too low to the ground. Had Kincaid caught it, they would have had a first down inside the Ducks 25, but instead it was another turnover on downs. Much like the first half, a missed opportunity really cost the Utes.

Clark Phillips III is the best cornerback in the country for a reason, as he picked off Nix to give Utah the ball back. Unfortunately, Rising gave it right back, throwing a pick of his own just a few plays later. With four minutes on the clock, the Utes needed a stop to give themselves a chance to win the game. They got it, and forced the Ducks to punt it away.

Rising and the offense took the field and Utah got to midfield. Facing third-and-six, Rising threw passes through the hands of Makai Cope and Solomon Enis, leading to a turnover on downs, and ultimately a Ducks win.

Utah is not eliminated from winning the Pac-12, but they need four games to break their way in order to get there. Utah needs a win at Colorado next week and to see a UCLA victory over Cal, the Washington Huskies beat the Washington State Cougars and the Ducks lose to the Oregon State Beavers. If all of that happens, they’re in the Pac-12 Title Game against USC.

The Utes will still go to a bowl game following next week’s regular season finale against Colorado. 


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This article was updated on Nov. 20, 2022, to clarify Utah’s chances at getting to the Pac-12 Title Game. With this loss, Utah is still not eliminated from winning the conference.