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No. 8 Oregon Hands No. 13 Utah Worst Home Loss Since 2014

The Utes took a hard loss at home for the first time this season against the Oregon Ducks. It ended 35-6 to the Ducks.
Utah+quarterback+Bryson+Barnes+%2816%29+in+the+game+versus+the+University+of+Oregon+Ducks+at+Rice-Eccles+Stadium+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+28%2C+2023.+%28Photo+by+Xiangyao+%E2%80%9CAxe%E2%80%9D+Tang+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Xiangyao Tang
Utah quarterback Bryson Barnes (16) in the game versus the University of Oregon Ducks at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The highly anticipated matchup between the No. 13 Utes (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) and No. 8 Oregon took place following Saturday’s College GameDay festivities, an event that put Utah in the college football spotlight for the first time since 2016. Under a gloomy sky in the brisk fall weather, the two teams fought hard while viewers looked on from all across the country.

Recap

Utah won the toss and chose to defer, handing it to Oregon to start it off. After earning a penalty to get to the Duck’s 20-yard line, Oregon’s Bo Nix completed a 30-yard pass to push up the field. A 1-yard rushing touchdown from the quarterback secured the first seven points for the green and yellow, with over 12 minutes left to play in the quarter.

In the next drive, Bryson Barnes quickly found his feet and completed a short pass to Munir McClain for 14 yards. Another 8-yard pass found Devaughn Vele to advance to the 47-yard line, before Ja’Quinden Jackson made an attempt to rush up the middle, though to no avail. A pass interference from Oregon kept the play alive and offered Utah an automatic first down.

After trying for another fourth down, Utah failed to convert, and turned it back over to Oregon. On Oregon’s first play of the drive, Junior Tafuna forced and recovered a fumble to give the Utes a step up. Unfortunately, Utah had to settle for a field goal to finish the drive, with Cole Becker coming through to claim the three points.

On Oregon’s next drive, a long pass from Nix was rendered incomplete when it was dropped by the wide receiver. A second attempt by the Ducks saw a gain of 18 yards, and the play concluded with another rushing touchdown for Oregon. The first quarter ended shortly after with a tentative score of 3-14.

At the start of the second quarter, the Ducks were not backing down and only continued to pack on the pressure. A series of passes and a rush up the middle from Oregon advanced the Ducks down to the 3-yard line, where a short pass found Troy Franklin in the end zone for the team’s third touchdown of the game. 

The Utes entered their next drive determined to make progress. Barnes made a series of complete passes to gain 21 yards, before being sacked at the 33-yard line. Utah failed to advance much further, and Jack Bouwmeester made the punt to turn it back over to Oregon.

Though the drives were not going their way, the Utes continued to persevere and made every effort they could. Barnes completed a trio of passes to advance 31 yards before a sneaky 18-yard pass to Vele pushed the Utes to the 12-yard line. Utah once again had to settle for another field goal and inched closer to Oregon with a score of 6-21 at the end of the first half.

Going into the third quarter, Oregon returned to the field with a vengeance. The Ducks held off Utah during the Utes’ drive, only allowing an 8-yard gain. When it came time for their turn, Oregon rushed up the field in a matter of four minutes, completing the last nine yards with a rushing touchdown to bring it to 6-28. 

When the game went back to Utah, the drive was cut short after a pass from Barnes was intercepted by the Ducks. Oregon wasted no time and made quick passes for the end zone, securing a 5-yard touchdown, adding insult to injury and pushing the score to 6-35. Utah continued to struggle to break past the Duck defense and were unable to record any points for the remainder of the quarter.

Down 29 points going into the final quarter, the energy began to drain from Rice Eccles, which seemingly took effect on the Utes. Utah was able to rush up the field in short increments, not gaining more than eight yards at a time. Jaylon Glover made a last-ditch effort in the last few minutes, rushing a total of 25 yards to the 37-yard line. Regrettably, the Utes didn’t make it any further, and the game concluded with a final score of 6-35.

Analysis

Oregon moved the ball quickly to start the game, finding the endzone in just six plays and just 2:42 on the clock. Utah came back aggressive, going for it twice on fourth down, but was unable to find any points.

After struggling throughout the first half, Utah’s offense was finally able to get moving at the end of the first half. The Utes put together what would be their longest drive of the game, finding 53 yards and getting their second field goal of the day. Unfortunately for Utah, this was the last time they found points.

Utah’s defense struggled in the first half, despite holding Oregon to 1-3 on third down conversions. Oregon found 204 yards in the half, including 142 passing. In addition to the yards, Nix went 14 for 16 for two touchdowns.

Utah finished the game with 241 yards, far below Oregon’s 390 yards. Nix accounted for 248 of Oregon’s yards, going 24 for 31. The Ducks also averaged 5.3 yards per rush on 27 attempts. Utah’s defense was unable to record a sack and totaled only one tackle for loss.

“That’s as thoroughly and soundly as we’ve been beaten in a long time, particularly at home,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said. “Good teams respond, and we will respond.”

With this loss, Utah suffers their first home loss since the pandemic-riddled 2020 season when Utah lost 17-33 against USC. This also makes their worst home loss since a 10-42 loss against Arizona in 2014, and the first time Utah has failed to score a touchdown in a home game since a 9-17 loss against UCLA in 2015.

The Utes now remain at home, playing Arizona State on Nov. 4. The game starts at 12:00 p.m. MST and will be broadcast over Pac-12 networks.

 

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About the Contributors
Abbey Thomas, Assistant Sports Editor
Abbey Thomas started at the Daily Utah Chronicle in the fall of 2022 as a Sports Writer and is now Assistant Sports Editor for the desk. She is currently studying Cultural Anthropology with a minor in history and hopes to pursue medicine one day. Abbey is a die-hard fan of Real Salt Lake and Manchester City, and loves to travel and practice photography in her free time!
Sean Overton, Sports Editor
Sean Overton is the Editor of the Sports Desk. He is currently a senior and is majoring in Business Administration with plans to attend law school.
XIangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.
Madeline Van Wagenen, Opinion Editor
(she/her) Madeline Van Wagenen is an opinion writer and photographer at the Daily Utah Chronicle. She is a junior studying communications and Spanish. Madeline absolutely loves writing, photography and Billy Joel's entire discography. When she’s not working on projects for the Chrony, she can be found playing card games with friends or curating oddly specific Spotify playlists.

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