SALT LAKE CITY, UT – No. 8 Oregon faced an early hiccup in their showdown with No. 13 Utah on Saturday afternoon, but it was the only roadblock in a dominant 35-6 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The win marked the first time in 19 attempts that an opponent had bested the Utes.
Following a brief delay of game penalty on the first play of the game, Oregon (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) quarterback Bo Nix and his offense relentlessly pursued their path against the Utah defense, setting the tone for a memorable victory. The Ducks employed an uptempo strategy that kept the Utes on their toes, and Nix orchestrated an opening drive, requiring just six plays to find the end zone. A powerful 16-yard rush by running back Bucky Irving set the stage, with Nix finishing the drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
For Utah (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12), the game never approached a competitive level after the highly anticipated visit from ESPN College GameDay. The Utes simply couldn’t match the firepower of the Oregon team, widely regarded as a contender for a College Football Playoff spot.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham expressed his frustration with the game’s outcome, saying, “Not a lot of positives in that game for us. That’s as thoroughly and soundly we’ve been beaten in a long time, particularly at home here. Give Oregon credit, they are a complete football team.”
Oregon extended their lead with two more scores in the first half, including an 18-yard touchdown pass from Nix to Jordan James and a 3-yard toss to Troy Franklin. Nix showcased his Heisman Trophy contender status and the title of the country’s best quarterback in terms of passing completion percentage.
Despite Utah defensive tackle Junior Tafuna’s forced fumble and recovery, and kicker Cole Becker adding a 32-yard field goal, the Utes struggled to generate momentum. Oregon punted twice at the end of the first half but made halftime adjustments to resume scoring in the second half. A 12-play, 76-yard drive was capped by a 9-yard rushing touchdown by Irving, increasing Oregon’s lead to 28-6.
The Utes attempted to gain some traction with a backward pass from Mikey Matthews to Dijon Stanley on a 49-yard return after the ensuing kickoff. However, Utah’s quarterback Bryson Barnes threw an interception on the subsequent drive, allowing Oregon to score once more. Traeshon Holden’s 5-yard run into the end zone concluded a five-play, 52-yard drive.
Bo Nix ended the game with 248 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an additional 1-yard rushing touchdown. On the Utah side, Barnes suffered his first loss as a starter, completing 15-of-29 passes for 136 yards and two interceptions.
Coach Whittingham acknowledged Oregon’s dominance, saying, “They’re very deserving of their ranking, and I’ve got a ton of respect for what they’re doing up there. They took it to us today, and so we’ve got to regroup.”
The game left the Utah fans reeling as they faced cold and windy conditions, with many departing before the final whistle. Oregon’s comprehensive victory solidified their position as a formidable force in the college football landscape.