Utah lost to Oregon State 42-34, dropping its first Pac-12 game this season as the Beavers outscored Utah 28-10 in the second half.
Here are three takeaways from the Utes’ loss.
Special teams miscues, again
Utah’s special teams have been a weak link all season long. From missed field goals to giving up kick returns for touchdowns, the Utes haven’t been stellar in that department.
On Saturday, special teams miscues hurt the Utes again as Oregon State blocked both Utah punts, although one was called back due to a penalty.
Up by three in the middle of the third quarter, the Utes punted for the first time. It was blocked and returned for a touchdown by Luke Musgrave, putting Oregon State up 28-24 and turning the tide for the Beavers.
Utah’s second punt of the night was also blocked, and Oregon State returned it to the Utah 10-yard-line, but the play was wiped out because the Beavers had two players wearing No. 8 on the field at the same time, and Utah kept the ball.
Utah hadn’t had a punt blocked since 2014 and had two blocked in one night. Those are the kind of mistakes you can’t make it a crucial conference game.
Utes kicker Jordan Noyes made two field goals and converted on all of his extra points, but he missed a 52-yard field goal with 13:26 left in the game which would have cut Oregon State’s lead to one point.
Utah’s defense couldn’t stop the run
Entering Saturday’s game, Utah’s first priority was stopping the run. The Beavers have one of the best running backs in the conference in B.J. Baylor and have one of the best rushing attacks overall, anchored by a veteran offensive line.
The Utes’ defense, which was so good stopping the run during all three of their Pac-12 wins this season, knew Oregon State was going to run a lot and at times sold out to stop it but just couldn’t.
Oregon State threw the ball 19 times and rushed 38 times, gaining 260 yards on the ground. Baylor had 152 yards on 19 carries and exploded for a 68-yard run that set up an Oregon State touchdown. He also scored a touchdown himself. The Beavers’ offensive line was great all game, opening up holes for Baylor all night.
Utah’s 260 rushing yards allowed were the most given up in a game by the Utes since 2017, when Utah allowed 347 yards rushing in a loss to Oregon.
Utes’ 4th down decisions backfire
Utah made two pivotal decisions to go for it on fourth down in the red zone and didn’t convert either of them.
With 3:47 left in the second quarter and with Utah on the Oregon State 2-yard line up by three points, Cam Rising passed to Brant Kuithe on a similar play that the Utes had just run on third down. Oregon State was ready for it and stopped Kuithe short.
With just over six minutes left in the game and down by 11 points on 4th-and-2 at the goal line, Kyle Whittingham made the decision to go for it instead of kicking a field goal to cut the deficit to eight points.
Rising passed it to Covey in the end zone, but Covey was hit hard by Alex Austin, the ball trickled out and Oregon State came away with a huge stop, basically sealing the game for the Beavers.
Utah gambled on two fourth downs and it didn’t pay off.