Las Vegas, NV — The No. 17 Utah Utes won their first Pac-12 football title by defeating the No. 10 Oregon Ducks 38-10 in the conference championship game Friday at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium in front of a crowd of 56,511.
It was the second game against the Ducks over the past two weeks, and Utah dismantled Oregon. Again.
Also Friday, Utah secured its fifth 10-win season under head coach Kyle Whittingham.
The Utes came out the gate firing out on all cylinders, they led 23-0 at the break and never looked back after that. Linebacker Devin Lloyd’s first-quarter pick-six turned out to be the play of the game, as his 34-yard return for a touchdown gave the Utah a 13-0 lead.
It was the first time since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Utes (10-3) won the conference championship and clinched a coveted spot in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
“Certainly, it’s a great feeling and it’s something we’ve been working toward for a long time,” Whittingham said. “We’ve been working away at it ever since we joined the league. This is the culmination of a lot of years of hard work and effort. It’s a history-making football team at Utah.”
Oregon couldn’t stop the three headed monster on offense–the quarterback Cameron Rising, running back Tavion Thomas, and tight end Dalton Kincaid in the first half.
Thomas scored a game-opening drive with a two-yard touchdown to start the onslaught.
Rising later hit Kincaid for an 11-yard touchdown with 27 seconds left in the first half for a 20-0 lead.
Utah scored more points in the first half Friday than they had in their first two Pac-12 championships games combined.
The Utah defense joined the party too. Malone Mataele interception of Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown led to Utah kicker Jadon Redding drilling a 50-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
“It’s really surreal right now,” said linebacker Devin Lloyd, who earned the game’s Most Valuable Player award after recording a pick six and seven tackles.
Utah outscored the Ducks by a combined 76-17 in the two games. The Utah held Oregon to 63 yards rushing in the first game — and 74 on Friday.
Two years ago, Oregon defeated Utah in the Pac-12 title game in Santa Clara, California, 37-15.
“They earned the win tonight,” said Oregon coach Mario Cristobal. Going into contest, there were reports that Cristobal could be the next coach at his alma mater, Miami.
Thomas later added a second touchdown to put Utah up 35 points. Oregon running back Travis Dye’s two-yard run late in the fourth got the Ducks in the end zone for the first time all evening.
“We had the same mentality and mindset and focus and that look in their eye that they had two weeks ago,” Whittingham said.
“It wouldn’t have mattered who we were playing. The guys were locked in, on a mission. They were not to be denied.”
Oregon never seriously threatened Utah’s lead after the half.
The Ducks started the half off with a field goal, but a 41-yard run by Rising led to a TJ Pledger four-yard run to seal the game.
“Very proud of the guys of putting the punctuation on the last Pac-12 game of the year,” Whittingham said. “It’s very difficult to beat a team twice, especially a team the caliber of Oregon.
“For our guys to be able to do that 13 days ago and turn around and do it again, that lets you know how tough and determined those guys are.”
Quarterback Cam Rising completed 15 of 24 passes for 170 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Rising also ran nine times for 61 yards. Tavion Thomas had 18 carries for 63 yards and a pair of TDs.
Britain Covey caught five passes for 72, while Dalton Kincaid had four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Utah outgained Oregon 361-221 in total offense and converted 6 of 13 on third down attempts.