The Oregon Ducks put a huge dent in Utah’s Pac-12 championship hopes on Saturday, as the Utes fell 20-17 in Eugene, Ore. to drop to 6-2 in conference play.
Here are three takeaways from Utah’s loss.
Cam Rising’s struggles
Utah quarterback Cam Rising has a penchant for showing up huge on the biggest stages, like in the Utes’ win over USC in October, but on Saturday night, Rising had his worst game of the season.
Rising, who was in a knee brace during pregame warmups, threw three interceptions, two of which were tipped at the line of scrimmage.
On Utah’s second-to-last drive of the game when the Utes were looking to tie or take the lead, Rising’s throw to Dalton Kincaid in the middle of the field wasn’t close and was intercepted by Bennett Williams.
Rising was 21 for 38 for 170 yards, no touchdowns with the three interceptions against an Oregon pass defense that entered Saturday allowing nearly 300 yards per game through the air — ranked 127th of 131 Division I football programs.
The longest completed pass for Rising was for 18 yards, as the Utah quarterback did not take many deep shots throughout the game. Rising was protected fairly well by his offense line — he didn’t get sacked once — but just could not connect when it mattered most.
The Utes’ defense gave Rising one last shot at redemption, as Utah got the ball back with 3:14 left.
Rising ran 13 yards for a first down, but on third and fourth and 6 on the ensuing set of downs, he had two incompletions — including a fourth-down throw that Solomon Enis’s couldn’t haul in — to seal the Utes’ fate.
Offense wastes a fantastic second-half defensive performance
Utah’s defense got off to a slow start along with its offense. The Utes trailed 17-3 at the half and needed a spark to get back into the game.
Oregon gave them that spark at the beginning of the third quarter.
The Ducks brought on quarterback Ty Thompson for a trick play, and a missed handoff between Thompson and Dont’e Thornton resulted in a fumble picked up by Karene Reid that he took for a touchdown, Utah’s first of the game.
From there, Utah’s defense played pretty much lights out. The Utes allowed just 101 second-half yards and held the Ducks to three points while getting two takeaways.
It was a complete turnaround, and it kept the Utes in the game despite the offensive struggles.
In particular, the defense gave the offense two chances at the end of the game on a Clark Phillips III interception and a three-and-out, but Utah’s offense couldn’t get the tying or go-ahead score.
Bo Nix shines on senior night
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, along with Rising, probably wasn’t at 100% in his final game at Autzen Stadium, but Nix delivered a performance good enough for a win, finishing 25 for 37 for 287 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Especially early on, Nix — who wasn’t very mobile during the game — stuck to short passes and relied on Oregon’s receivers to gain yards after the catch, which they did in the first half.
Nix threw for 287 of Oregon’s 346 total offensive yards — the Ducks had only 59 rushing yards — and completed a few deep balls.
The Auburn transfer converted third and 1 on the ground with 1:43 remaining to secure the victory for the Ducks.