UTAH UTES

PK: Utah Football Faces Reality Check Following Loss To Oregon Ducks

Oct 28, 2023, 5:14 PM

Utah Utes Oregon Ducks football...

Utah Utes safety Sione Vaki (28) tries to block a pass by Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. 9Photo courtesy of Deseret News)

(10)

SALT LAKE CITY – Reality hit hard, but not surprisingly, and along the way most likely dashed the dreams for an unprecedented three consecutive conference championship for Utah Football.

Billed as a separation game between the pretenders and contenders, the Oregon Ducks proved they belong in the hunt for this year’s Pac-12 title. The Ducks (7-1, 4-1) all but eliminated Utah from the race, winning 35-6 on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 53,586 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, which was the third largest ever behind the opener against Florida this season and the thriller over USC last October.

The cold truth is the Utes don’t have enough weapons to upset the favored Ducks, whose only loss came by three points to undefeated Washington in Seattle. The point is not to blast the Utes, but rather to put it into perspective that the current version of the team isn’t good enough at this time.

“They took it to us,” said coach Kyle Whittingham, who thought the game was more one-sided than the score indicated. “We really didn’t do much of anything in the game.”

All you need to know is Utah’s best play came on special teams, when Mikey Matthews caught a kickoff in the end zone and tossed the ball backward across the field to Dijon Stanley, who returned it to 49 yards. Forget that Bryson Barnes promptly threw an interception on the ensuing possession that began yet another Ducks touchdown that led to the final score.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

This game was a mess for Utah, the rare one-sided blowout loss at home. It started ugly – Oregon marched 75 yards on six plays for a touchdown on its first possession – end never got any prettier for the Utes.

We know what you’re thinking – if a healthy Cam Rising at quarterback was throwing to tag-team partner Brant Kuithe, the goal of a three-peat could still be alive. Maybe so, nobody can accurately say definitively.

Not that it matters anyway. As Whittingham so readily states often, injuries are no excuse.

Don’t bother arguing with the motorcycle-riding boss with the beefy biceps, as the world saw during his crowd-pleasing appearance on the Pat McAfee show Friday as part of ESPN’s GameDay show on the Utah campus. Turns out, Whittingham on wheels was the most exciting part for the Utes over the last two days.

Urban Meyer’s opinion earlier in the week declaring his former defensive coordinator at Utah as college football’s best coach is debatable. But this much is true: three weeks shy of his 64th birthday, the whippersnapper Whittingham is the coolest coach in the land.

But even he can only do so much with Utah has available this season. The coach with the better players in the given game usually comes out on top.

Taking the glass half-full view – these are still college kids, after all – the Utes (6-2, 3-2) are far from being a lousy team. A bowl game, along with a decent possibility of nine wins (10 seems like a reach), remain on the table.

Still, getting hammered at home is embarrassing. And the Utes really can’t point much to injuries on defense, even though losing linebacker Lander Barton last week obviously hurt.

Oregon dominated in the trenches, a fact that always gnaws at Whittingham. Utah’s defense could do little to stuff the Ducks, led by player-of-the-year candidate quarterback Bo Nix (24 of 31 for 248 yards and two touchdowns).

Not even reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams of USC carved up the Utes the way Nix did. The Auburn transfer, operating behind an impressive group of blockers, had his way all game and directed the offense to 390 yards of total offense.

“Credit their O-line,” said Utah linebacker Karene Reid. “The scheme was there; we’ve just got to be more aggressive.”

To complicate the problems, Utah’s running game was virtually non-existent. After running wild in consecutive wins over Cal and USC, the Utes were stuffed at the line of scrimmage and are not good enough to rely on competing through the air.

Ja’Quinden Jackson and Sioni Vaki combined to rush for only 76 yards, a number that was both abysmal and surprising. Yes, it was that kind of game.

Want more coverage of Utah Football? Take us with you, wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • Utah Utes Scoreboard

  • Utah Utes Team Leaders

  • Utah Utes Standings

Utah Utes

Allstate, Big 12 Conference, Naming Rights...

Mitch Harper

Social Media Reacts To Big 12 Potentially Selling League Name To Allstate

Social media had its share of takes after the reports surfaced that the Big 12 is looking to sell its naming rights to Allstate.

1 day ago

baylor-celebrates-big-play-against-byu-in-2023...

Michelle Bodkin

Getting To Know Utah Football’s 2024 Schedule: Baylor Bears

It's time to dive into Utah football's second game of the 2024 season- another home game, this time against the Baylor Bears.

1 day ago

Big 12 Conference, Allstate, Name Change...

Mitch Harper

Big 12 Looking At Selling Name Of League To Insurance Company

The Big 12 Conference is looking for additional revenue streams.

1 day ago

Miki Suguturaga Utah Utes Football 60 in 60 #54...

KSL Sports

60 in 60: #54 Utah’s Miki Suguturaga (Tight End)

The countdown for Hans & Scotty's 60 in 60 is on. Coming in at No. 54 is Utah tight end Miki Suguturaga. Throughout the summer...

1 day ago

kyle-whittingham-on-the-sideline-during-utah-versus-oregon-res-2023...

Jeremy Mauss

Jensen: Utah Must Win Big 12 For 2024 To Be Considered Successful

Are expectations for Utah football too high?

1 day ago

Big 12, Brett Yormark, Conference Expansion...

Mitch Harper

Big 12 Reportedly Considering Up To $1 Billion Private Equity Investment

SALT LAKE CITY – The Big 12 Conference could be ushering in a new era of college athletics. On Thursday, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that the Big 12 Conference is considering a private equity investment of up to $1 billion. Breaking: Big 12 considering private equity investment of up to $1 billion for as much […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!

Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption...

Hans & Scotty’s Day Of Adoption

Join the KSL Sports Zone for Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption, in partnership with the Humane Society of Utah, on June 25th, 2024!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

PK: Utah Football Faces Reality Check Following Loss To Oregon Ducks