No. 10 Utah’s hopes of repeating as Pac-12 champions pretty much came to an end on a frigid night at raucous Autzen Stadium. 

No. 12 Oregon took a big step toward the Pac-12 championship game with a 20-17 victory over the Utes Saturday, a week after seeing its dreams of getting into the College Football Playoff disappear. 

Utah (8-3, 6-2) rallied from a 17-3 halftime deficit to tie the game in the second half with a scoop-and-score by linebacker Karene Reid and an 18-yard end-around touchdown run by Jaylen Dixon in the third quarter.

But the Utes were held scoreless in the fourth quarter. Late in the period, they had opportunities to put together potential game-winning or game-tying drives, but they came up short. 

“It was a tough day. The ultimate goal is to win the game and we weren’t able to do that so it sucks. It hurts a lot,” said Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid.

“The only thing we can do now is respond. We’ve got Colorado next week, so we’re looking forward to that.”

Ducks quarterback Bo Nix, hobbled by a leg injury suffered in a loss to Washington a week earlier, threw for 287 yards and a touchdown while the Oregon defense intercepted Utah QB Cam Rising three times.

“It wasn’t good enough. We didn’t do what we needed to do to be successful,” Rising said. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot. I’ve got to play better personally, myself.”

It was a sweet victory for the Ducks, who lost twice to the Utes last season by a combined score of 76-17, including 38-10 in the Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas. 

Now, Oregon (9-2, 7-1) needs to beat arch-rival Oregon State next week to clinch its spot in the title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 2 for the fourth consecutive season. 

Oregon snapped Utah’s four-game overall winning streak.

Earlier Saturday, No. 7 USC secured its spot in the conference title game — and kept its College Football Playoff dreams alive — by beating No. 16 UCLA 48-45.  

Utah’s offense was stymied at times by a Ducks defense that allowed 522 yards of total offense, including 408 through the air, to Washington. 

The Utes were held to their season low in points. 

The offense accounted for only 10 of Utah’s 17 points. Three Utah trips to the red zone in the first half produced only three points — thanks to a missed field goal and a turnover on downs.

“We weren’t quite in sync on offense tonight. We never really did get into much of a rhythm,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. 

Highlights, key plays and photos from No. 10 Utah’s 20-17 loss to No. 12 Oregon
3 takeaways from No. 10 Utah’s 20-17 loss to No. 12 Oregon

Rising, who sported a brace on his left knee, completed 21 of 38 passes for 170 yards.  

Asked if the knee affected his play, Rising responded, “No.”

“He wasn’t at his best tonight, but neither were some other guys as well,” Whittngham said. “I’m sure some coaches could have been better. Everybody could have been better.

“Cam didn’t seem to find much of a rhythm tonight like he usually does. He’s usually able to get into a rhythm. He wasn’t able to get that tonight.”

The Utes gained 326 yards of total offense — 170 through the air and 156 on the ground. Running back Tavion Thomas rushed 19 times for 55 yards. 

Kincaid caught 11 passes for 99 yards, and wide receiver Devaughn Vele hauled in five receptions for 43 yards.

As for Oregon, there were questions all week about Nix’s availability for this game after he got hurt against Washington.

But Nix took the field in warmups and was honored for Senior Night. No way he was going to miss this opportunity. 

Nix completed 25 of 37 passes for 287 yards with one interception and one touchdown. 

Utah limited Oregon, which entered the game averaging 240 rushing yards per game, to 59 yards on the ground. 

“I’m very proud of the way the defense played overall,” Whittingham said. “We held them to 50-something yards rushing, which is a ton under what they’re used to getting.”

But Nix was effective enough through the air. Wide receiver Dont’e Thornton caught four passes for 151 yards and Kris Hutson had four grabs for 56 yards. 

Oregon’s Camden Lewis booted a 41-yard field goal to put the Ducks ahead with 11:17 remaining. 

But Utah had multiple chances to beat the Ducks. 

On fourth and 2 in Oregon territory, Rising threw a low pass intended for Kincaid that was incomplete. Had that play been made, it would have been a first down.

With 5:50 left, Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III intercepted Nix, but on the ensuing drive, Rising’s pass over the middle was picked off by Bennett Williams. 

Then with about two minutes remaining, the Ute offense faced fourth and 6 from midfield, but Rising’s pass to Solomon Enis fell incomplete. 

That was Utah’s last gasp as the Ducks ran out the clock. 

Asked to pinpoint why the offense had its troubles, Whittingham said he’ll have to watch the film to answer that question. 

“I know they have a bunch of good athletes on defense. A lot of it has to do with their personnel and the way they played,” he said.

“I thought for sure those last two drives, we were going to have a game-winning drive, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”

Now the Utes are just left to contemplate what might have been. 

“The guys played hard, no doubt about that. Great effort,” Whittingham said. “Oregon played hard as well. In the final analysis, they made a couple more plays than we did.”

Utah visits Colorado next Saturday. 

EXTRA POINTS: Salt Lake City native Haloti Ngata, a former Oregon and NFL star, was an honorary captain for the Ducks Saturday night … Oregon had dropped three of the previous four meetings against Utah before Saturday.