Ducks Rose Bowl Bound After Pac-12 Championship Win

Ross Houston
December 7, 2019

OR dominated Utah with a 37-15 win in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday night in Santa Clara to hand the Utes their second loss of the season and prevent them from reaching the playoff. At 12-1 they would be in mix for a spot.

That sound you hear?

Oklahoma and the Bears will kickoff at 11 a.m. CT on ABC from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The victor of that game is all but assuredly in the playoff barring a Georgia win over LSU in the SEC Championship Game. Utah has been a slow-starting team this season, but from the first quarter it was clear this would be a long night for the favored Utes.

OR did the College Football Playoff committee the biggest favor of all by solving the Utah problem. Utah allowed only 56.3 yards rushing per game entering the Pac-12 title game.

One of Kayvon Thibodeaux's sacks in the Pac-12 Championship game. Here's what else we learned from Friday night's beat down. Instead of forcing their way into the final four, the Utes are now poised to fall right out of the New Year's 6 bowl games altogether and into the Alamo Bowl. He also eclipsed 1000 yards on the ground for the season in the victory. For the Utes, Moss was the team's only source of offense and he kept Utah in the game with his explosive runs. That's not to say OR doesn't deserve credit for its game plan. The guys up front dominated Leki Fotu and Co. on run plays and did the same when Justin Herbert dropped back to pass.

The Ducks' game plan had been to run straight at the Utes' defense, one of the best and most physical in the country. No. 13 OR on Friday night at Santa Clara, Calif.

"Maybe these guys got a little bit exhausted of hearing that we weren't the more physical team", head coach Mario Cristobal said.

But Utah didn't help itself, either. Moss didn't play poorly; he was the second-best offensive player in the game. OR had an answer for Moss on the ground and Utah didn't have the weapons to overcome that. But they also finished 0-2 when it mattered most, against teams with at least eight wins (USC and Oregon). The thing is, OR didn't even play its best game until the final 15 minutes. The Ducks won't be taking their spot in the playoff, though. It's been a great season for Kyle Whittingham's team, they just didn't have the night they needed.

Coming out of the locker rooms, the Ducks saw a Utah team with renewed energy.

Utah never belonged in the playoff, never was a true national-level contender, and now they're not even going to the Rose Bowl. In three trips inside the 20, including two inside the 10, the Ducks came away with nine points.

Utah came into the game with the best statistical defense in the Pac-12. They pounded other conference weaklings like Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona. That might be good enough to make the playoff.

But let's not act like Oregon's win is somehow soiled by underachievement.

But it wasn't about that one play. But on Friday night in Santa Clara, it was the Ducks who were dictating the outcome of this game.

But Friday night, Cristobal did what he was hired to do; he showed that OR is the toughest program in the conference, and won the conference championship. Thibodeaux is an athletic freak who already looks like he's so much better than what is being trotted out there to defend him.

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