No. 3 Oregon’s mission to reach the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2014 took a massive blow Saturday after the Ducks were overwhelmed by host Utah in a 38-7 rout.
“Everybody’s upset and disappointed like we should be,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “It should burn. It should hurt a ton. Guys are competitors, and it’s hard too because we’ve taken a lot of pride in being resilient and being able to bounce back from adversity. And tonight, we didn’t do a good enough job.”
Oregon had fallen behind and played in close games throughout the season but had always found ways to respond — including in its overtime loss to Stanford, in which the Ducks trailed by 10 at halftime. Against Utah, there was none of that.
They settled for two missed first-half field goals before falling behind 21-0 then gave up a 78-yard punt return touchdown by Britain Covey as time expired in the first half. At that point, it was clear the Ducks weren’t coming back.
“The best way to put it is the responsibility is completely mine. Every head coach should always do that,” Cristobal said. “On the other side, there is a lot to play for — a lot. Most of our goals are still ahead of us. And we got to get ready for them quickly by going back to work and they ain’t going to fix themselves, but surely not the standard tonight.”
“It hurts,” Cristobal added. “It needs to hurt, and everybody should use that hurt as the right kind of motivation. We should be really motivated to play this next week because we got a ton of play for, and by the time we wake up in the morning, this thing’s got to be behind us and we got to move forward.”
Cristobal announced that wide receivers Johnny Johnson III (25 catches, 311 yards) and Jaylon Redd (13 catches, 197 yards) will miss the rest of the season due to injury. The news comes on the heels of Mycah Pittman’s announcement this week that he left the team and would transfer. All three players were among the team’s top five receiving leaders.
The win clinched the Pac-12 South for Utah and coach Kyle Whittingham, who became the Utes’ all-time wins leader (142) with the victory.
Coupled with Oregon State’s 24-10 win over Arizona State on Saturday, the Ducks now need to beat the Beavers in their rivalry game next week to setup a rematch with Utah in the Pac-12 title game in Las Vegas on Dec. 3.
Both Oregon State and Washington State can also reach the Pac-12 title game. The Beavers would advance to the title game with a win against Oregon and a Washington State loss to Washington in the Apple Cup. Washington State would advance if it beats Washington and Oregon State beats Oregon.
Utah outgained the Ducks 386-294 and converted 11 of 14 third-down chances. The Utes were dominant at the line of scrimmage and limited Oregon to 63 yards rushing, while setting the tone with 208 rushing yards.
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