Heading into the Pac-12 Championship, Utah had high hopes of coming away with a victory and securing a spot in the College Football Playoffs. However, Oregon had other plans. Cruising to its first Pac-12 championship since 2014, 13th-ranked Oregon dominated the fifth-ranked Utes by a final of 37-15. This puts Utah out of the running to compete for the title.
The game started in Oregon’s favor and never turned. Their dominance started with a 67-yard touchdown drive and ended with 30 more points against a team who only gave up an average of 11.3 points per game in the regular season.
Jumping to a 20-0 lead at halftime, the Ducks were able to hold off a potential Utah comeback as their only 15 points occurred in the third quarter. Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was 14 of 26 for 193 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Johnny Johnson III had six receptions for a total of 87 yards with a touchdown. But eyes were on running back CJ Verdell who ran for 208 yards with three touchdowns. One came on a 70-yard run, the longest in Pac-12 Championship Game history. A second touchdown came on a 31-yard carry. Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said of his team, “I believe they outwork everybody. They are made of the right stuff.”
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Utah coach Kyle Whittingham sought to see the positives despite such a devastating loss. “Obviously tonight was a huge disappointment,” he said, “But (that) doesn’t detract from the fact that we won 11 football games and were South champions two consecutive years in a row.”
Utah did finish with an 11-2 record with what may go down as their greatest senior class ever.
The Utes final game of this 2019 season is still unknown, but one could speculate between the Alamo Bowl, or possibly the Holiday Bowl or Cotton Bowl. Last year, Utah faced Northwestern in the Holiday Bowl and suffered a stunning 31-20 loss.
Despite a devastating loss to the Ducks, Utah still with one game left has sights focused on a final victory to cap off a well-fought 2019 season. Oregon will play in the Rose Bowl on January 1 against a Big Ten opponent.