The #8 Ducks went into Rice-Eccles stadium looking to make a statement in advance of the first Playoff Committee rankings. Meanwhile the #13 Utes were hoping to keep putting together wins in a season that could have be derailed by injuries. It would be a question of the #2 offense in the country for Oregon taking on Utah’s #14 defense.
Here’s how it played out….
Utah won the coin toss and deferred putting Bo Nix and the potent Oregon offense on the field first. The Utah home crowd forced a delay of game on the first play of the game, but Oregon upped the tempo to get the ball moving. Four straight completions, a pair each for Tez Johnson and Troy Franklin, put the Ducks in the redzone on their first drive. Bucky Irving ripped off a nice run breaking tackles for 16 yards to the 1, where Nix dove in on the keeper. While they showed their spread 2-pt formation, Camden Lewis pulled them back in to drill the extra point and go up 7-0.
After a touchback, the Utes came out looking to establish the ground game. A run would get stuffed on 3rd and 2 at midfield but the Utes went for it on 4th down and picked up a new set of downs courtesy of a pass interference call against the Ducks. The Utes would go for it again on 4th and 1, but Mase Funa would bring down Bryson Barnes on the QB keeper for the turnover on downs.
Utah would get the ball right back when Junior Tafuna stripped Bucky Irving on the first play of the series. With 1st down at the 27, Utah would get to the 14 before settling for a field goal, setting the score at 7-3.
The Ducks would get to midfield quickly where Irving would move it into Ute territory on a nifty stop-cut on 2nd and 1. The next play would see Franklin drop a sure touchdown pass at the 4. He would redeem himself 2 plays later hauling in a strike into the red zone. Jordan James’ first touch of the game would be an 18-yard TD catch on the following play. Another Lewis kick put the Ducks on top 14-3.
Barnes would bring the Ute offense back onto the field looking to get some offensive momentum going. They would have no luck as Tysheem Johnson would secure an interception on just the second play of the drive setting the Ducks up on the Utah 30 yard line.
A healthy dose of Irving gave the Ducks 1st and goal at the 3. It would only take 1 play for Nix to find Franklin in the end zone for his second TD pass of the game. Oregon would skip the 2 point formation and go straight for the extra point kick, making the score 21-3.
It would take a 16 yard completion on 3rd and 7 to prevent another short possession for Utah. Kyree Jackson would make Barnes pay on 1st down with a sack for an 11 yard loss. On 3rd and 21, Utah would pick up only 10 yards and give up the first punt of the game. Oregon would take over from their own 20 after the touchback.
The drive would get off to a rough start with a holding penalty on 1st down, but James would pick up 11 on 1st and 20. A 2 yard gain on 3rd and 5 would mean the Ducks punted right back to the Utes.
Utah would pick up a first down on the ground before a holding call put them behind the sticks. Barnes would only pick up 4 yards on 3rd and 9, forcing another Utah punt.
Starting from their own 10, Oregon would face a 3rd and 5 again deep in their own territory. A diving deflection would bring Oregon’s punt unit out again. A booming punt and great coverage flipped the field putting Utah to work at their own 35.
With less than a minute and a half on the clock, the Utes would come out throwing and move swiftly downfield. The Ducks would toughen up near their own 30 getting a near sack and tackle for loss on back-to-back plays to bring up 4th and 1 with 19 seconds left in the half. A gain of 18 set the Utes up with a new set of downs at the 12. A pair of incompletions would force Utah to settle for a field goal and the score at halftime would be 21-6.
The second half saw the first kick return of the game, but good coverage saw Utah starting from their own 19 yard line. With only 28 yards rushing in the first half, the Utes tried to establish the run game again, but a tackle for loss meant a punt back to the Ducks.
Oregon’s first drive of the second half started from their own 24 yard line. The Ducks would move the chains on a pair of Irving runs before facing 3rd and 9 at the 36. A 19 yard strike to Franklin put the ball in Utah territory. Runs by James and Nix got a new set of downs, the passes to Traeshon Holden for 5 yards and Terrence Ferguson for 20 put the Ducks in business with 1st and goal at the 9. A single rush by Irving would be all it took. With the Lewis kick the score stood at 28-6.
On the ensuing kickoff, a throwback in the end zone led to a 49-yard return as the Utes tried to spark a comeback. Tysheem Johnson would pick off Barnes on the first play, killing any chance of capitalizing on the great field position.
It would only take 5 plays, 3 for first downs and one for the score as Holden would take the screen in from 5 yards out. Ducks continued to pour it on with the score 35-6.
Utah’s offensive struggles would continue on their next drive. A 6 yard run on first down would be erased when Keyon Ware-Hudson sacked Barnes on second down to bring up 3rd and 7. The pass would tumble to the turf on the next play for the 3-and-out.
The Ducks would get flagged for block in the back on the punt return causing them to start from their own 10 yard line. A trio of 6 yard pickups looked like the Ducks continuing to impose their will, but the drive would stall at the 29 when Nix’s pass fell incomplete on 3rd and 3.
Ross James’ punt was fielded at the 25 before Evan Williams delivered a punishing hit to the Ute return man. A holding penalty started Utah’s drive from their own 20. The Utes would gain only 3 yards before being forced to punt again.
Oregon would go to work at their own 35, but a pair of false starts would see them facing 1st and 20. A 3rd and 18 toss to Irving would go for 19 yards and a fresh set of downs. Another false start by LT Josh Connerly would put the Ducks behind the sticks, but a dart to Franklin picked up 10 yards to put them back on schedule. Utah would blow up the 3rd down play for a 4 yard loss and force the punt from midfield.
The Utah ground game would find some success early in the drive picking up a pair of first downs and getting the ball to midfield with a QB draw. A reverse wide receiver pass put the ball in Duck territory and some hard runs moved the Utes to the 30. Facing 3rd and 8, Barnes tried to move the sticks on another QB draw but only gained a yard. He would be absolutely drilled on the 4th down try as his pass fluttered harmlessly to the turf.
The Ducks would let Ty Thompson take over as the back ups came on to finish up the game. Freshman Jayden Limar would pick up 8 yards on three straight runs that took 2 and a half minutes off the clock before punting back to the Utes.
Utah would pick up some tough yards on the ground against the Duck backups before letting the clock run out.
Ducks leave no doubt
Oregon never trailed in the game and clearly answered the question of whether they could deliver against a tough defense. Bo Nix finished 24/31 for 248 yards and a pair of TDs, adding 8 yards and a score on the ground. Bucky Irving had 83 yards and a score on 14 carries while Troy Franklin led all duck pass catchers with 8 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
The Ducks come home to face Cal on November 4.