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Utes clinch Pac-12 South with dominating win in Salt Lake City as humbled Ducks fall out of playoff race.

The Ducks could not handle the noise at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday, Nov. 20, and were dominated by a tough, motivated Utah team. Oregon had chances to stay in the game, but got away from its strength on offense and hurt itself with a bad execution in the red zone in the first half when it had chances to match Utah's offense blow for blow.

Big picture: The College Football Playoff is history. To be fair, this Ducks team wasn't really a national championship-caliber team, especially as the injuries piled up. Now, the question is, how interested are the Ducks in playing Utah again? To get that shot, they'll need to beat Oregon State.

The rivalry game next week was shaping up as a challenging task even before suffering a surprise beatdown (and, more importantly, injuries to a number of key players) at Utah. Now, the Ducks will face a Beavers team that will also be playing for a division title — if Washington beats Washington State on Friday in Seattle.

Storyline: Utah followed a script Oregon has used well: control the line of scrimmage/time of possession by converting manageable third downs and wearing down the defense. The Ducks had trouble communicating up front in the din of Rice-Eccles, which led to Utah players getting free hits on QB Anthony Brown Jr. and a free run on a field-goal blocked early in the first quarter. … In fact, a Utah defense loaded with freshmen and sophomores rattled and rolled Brown all night. Without Johnny Johnson III and Jaylon Redd (who coach Mario Cristobal said postgame are done for the season), Oregon had to rely on young receivers. There were some bright spots (Devon Williams' eight catches for 81 yards and a touchdown; Kris Hutson's career-best four catches for 96 yards), but the impact of being without their two most experienced receivers might have impacted the Ducks' running game (receivers at Oregon are asked to block; the Ducks did not establish their usual advantage with runs and quick throws to the outside). … The thin receiver position could be a real problem against an Oregon State team that figures to dare Oregon to throw down field.

Notable numbers: Oregon's ground game, the foundation of the program, was a non-factor. The Ducks netted only 63 yards on the ground while Utah ran for 208. Some of that was game state — falling behind on the scoreboard and getting into long-yardage downs with regularity. Byron Cardwell (seven carries for 35 yards) led Oregon on the ground. Troy Dye carried just six times for 29 yards. Quarterback Anthony Brown was credited with nine carries, but was not the factor in the run game he was in recent weeks.

Reaction: From play calling to fundamental play at the line of scrimmage, the Utes were a step ahead of the Ducks the whole night. It was a poor performance in so many ways for a team as talented as Oregon, but this was more about a very good Utah team that would be in the CFP hunt if not for a couple of duds early in the season when it had an inexperienced defense and a quarterback who has left the program. … Talk about execution all you want, but Mario Cristobal's game management will continue to be questions as long as stupid decisions such as not running out the clock at the end of the first half continue to pop up.

Cristobal's reaction to the loss: "The responsibility's completely mine. Every head coach tries to do that. Most of our goals are still ahead of us, and we've got to get ready for them quickly by going back to work. Things aren't going to fix themselves, but surely not the standard tonight. Credit to (the Utes). Really good football team."

Up next: Oregon State at Oregon, Saturday, Nov. 27, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN).


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