There are a lot of things that went wrong, but here is what you can take away from this game.
1. Lack of consistency
For the third time this conference season, the Ducks were trailing at halftime. This time around, the Ducks wouldn’t come close to the Utes after being completely dominated en route to a 28-0 halftime deficit.
Playing poorly in the first half had been a concern for Oregon all season, and it finally came back to bite them. Even in their loss to Stanford, they were able to pull themselves together in the second half. As soon as they were sloppy in the first half against a decent team, Utah crushed them. Going forward, the Ducks need to start treating the first half the same way they treat the second half.
2. Oregon has been bullied
Oregon has built a reputation as a team that loves to win in the trenches. On Saturday, they didn’t even come close to doing it. The team that had been so dominant all season was intimidated by the Utes nonstop for four quarters.
Oregon had been one of the best running teams in the conference, and Utah’s top-seven kept the Ducks just 63 yards rushing the entire game. The Utes swept the Ducks for 208 rushing yards and added four rushing touchdowns.
Utah’s offensive line also did a fantastic job of neutralizing Kayvon thibodeaux, as the rush for passes was almost non-existent except for one bag. The star defensive end didn’t have a single tackle for loss, and he didn’t register a single rushed quarterback.
3. Mental errors abound
To add even more insult to the injury, the Ducks couldn’t help but shoot themselves in the foot with continued mental failings. There were the crucial penalties that kept the Ducks from scoring, like the wait call when the Ducks led 14-0 in the second quarter. Then the resulting basket was blocked after an Oregon player allowed a defender to shoot inside space.
The Ducks also missed tackles overnight, which allowed the Utes to turn what should have been tiny wins into huge plays. Over time, these mistakes allowed Utah to build enough momentum that they couldn’t be stopped.
All the defensive mistakes were shown on Brant Kuithe’s reception where he fended off countless Oregon tackle attempts.
4. The defense did not force any turnaround
The Oregon defense was unable to provide the offense with sparks or momentum changes by forcing turnovers. Coming into that game, Utah had dropped the ball 11 times this season and the Ducks have led the Pac-12 in takeout.
As Oregon failed to force a single turnaround, Utah’s offense was never interrupted by its dominant performance and they continued to slice through the Ducks’ defense with ease.
5. Fancy the Rose Bowl?
Even if the sting of that loss isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, the Ducks still have tons of stuff to do. While they won’t make the college football playoffs, they can still make one of six New Year’s bowls.
If they win, they’ll represent the conference against a respectable Big-Ten team, most likely Michigan, in All’s Grandpa.
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