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Ducks Drop Pac-12 Title Game

Dec 3, 2021

LAS VEGAS — The two-time defending Pac-12 Conference champs were unable to make it three in a row Friday, when the No. 10 Oregon football team fell behind early and lost 38-10 to No. 17 Utah in the conference title game at Allegiant Stadium.

Two weeks after the Ducks (10-3) saw their College Football Playoff hopes dashed by the Utes, Friday's game played out in frustratingly familiar fashion. Utah took an early 14-0 lead, tacked on a third touchdown late in the second quarter and then capitalized on a breakdown by Oregon to add on one more score on the last play of the half. The UO offense never got rolling Friday, with the Ducks managing just 221 yards.

Looking to return to the Rose Bowl for the second time in three years and play in their third straight New Year's Six game, the Ducks instead seem destined for an Alamo Bowl matchup on Dec. 29. Oregon went to Utah on Nov. 20 in position for a playoff berth but saw those dreams and more upended by the Utes.

"Certainly not the result we wanted," UO coach Mario Cristobal said. "Felt good coming in, felt like we had a good week of practice, good preparation and a really big goal — third one in a row. But credit them, they earned the victory tonight. …

"They won their matchups, both from a coaching standpoint and from an execution standpoint. Did a better job than we did. There's no excuse to make."

Oregon's defensive leaders did what they could to keep the game competitive. Noah Sewell had 12 tackles and an interception, and Verone McKinley had four tackles and his FBS-leading sixth interception.

Both of those forced turnovers came in the first half, but the UO offense was unable to capitalize on them. Meanwhile, Oregon's Anthony Brown also had two first-half interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown and another that set up Utah's field goal on the final play of the first half.

"You come out hoping to fire on all cylinders," UO center Alex Forsyth said. "I thought pregame we looked good. We just didn't execute."

Travis Dye did his part for the Ducks as usual, compiling 109 yards from scrimmage with 15 rushes for 82 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown, plus a team-high four receptions for 27 yards. Oregon averaged just 6.1 yards per passing attempt and managed only one explosion play of 20 yards or more — a 33-yard reception by Isaah Crocker that set up Dye's late touchdown.

Now, the Ducks will look to regroup for a bowl. The choice in front of them is simple.

"We can go get whooped again in a bowl game," McKinley said, "or we can send a message going into next year."