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Utah Throttles Oregon, Wins First Pac-12 Championship

After defeating the Oregon Ducks once already, the Utah Utes again took down their foes in Las Vegas to capture their first conference championship in the Pac-12.
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LAS VEGAS -- In a city known for odds tilting in the house's favor, that sure was the case in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday night. 

A majority red crowd filled the seats in Allegiant Stadium in support of the Utah Utes, who started the year 1-2 and now find themselves as Pac-12 champions after defeating the Oregon Ducks, 38-10.

The Utes captured their first title as members of the Pac-12 after previously being runners-up in 2018 and 2019. Utah, which defeated Oregon 38-7 just weeks prior to again meeting again in Vegas, now look to be strong contenders for a Rose Bowl appearance. 

Oregon, which entered the game as three-point underdogs, were hoping to three-peat as Pac-12 champions for the first time since Oregon last did so from 2009-11. 

A win on Friday would have secured Oregon's fifth Pac-12 title game victory, winning in 2011, 2014, 2019 and 2020. 

Yet, as the confetti fell, it was Utah that had proven themselves to be the top team in the Pac-12. Here's how it all happened: 

First-Half Recap

The Utes got off to a quick start in Las Vegas, establishing an early 14-0 lead over Oregon in the first quarter. 

Utah scored on the game's opening possession, a 10-play, 70-yard drive that saw a fourth-down conversion by quarterback Cameron Rising and a pass interference penalty in the end zone. 

Running back Tavion Thomas walked into the end zone on a three-yard touchdown to give the Utes their first score of the game. 

Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown was intercepted by star Utes linebacker Devin Lloyd, which was brought back to the house for Utah's second touchdown of the night. 

The Ducks finished the first quarter with three penalties for 41 yards, while averaging 2.2 yards per play on offense and failing to convert any of their three third-down conversions. 

The tide appeared to have turned on the first play of the second quarter, however. Oregon linebacker Noah Sewell intercepted a misguided Rising pass to give Oregon new life. 

The Ducks proceeded to get down to the Utes' 26-yard line before eventually settling for a 44-yard field-goal attempt. However, the kick was missed, and Oregon once again walked away without points on the board. 

After another fourth-down conversion, it appeared as if the Utes would be on their way to extending their lead upon entering Ducks territory for a third time. 

However, Rising threw a second interception that featured a phenomenal effort from Oregon defensive back Verone McKinley.

Yet, true to Ducks fashion, Oregon was unable to generate anything from its second turnover of the evening, eventually punting the ball away. 

This time, Rising made good on his new opportunity, leading the Utes to a scoring drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Kincaid with only 27 seconds remaining in the first half to put Utah up 20-0 after a failed extra point. 

Looking to make a play to put the Ducks back into the mix of things, Brown threw his second interception of the half, giving the Utes possession at the Oregon 37-yard line with eight seconds left. 

After completing a short pass, Utah's Jadon Redding converted a 50-yard field-goal attempt to send the Utes into halftime leading 23-0. 

Second-Half Recap

The Ducks stayed with Brown at quarterback despite the first-half mistakes, and he led Oregon to its first scoring drive that resulted in a successful 42-yard field goal to make the score 23-3. 

After forcing a Utes three-and-out, the Ducks got the ball with hopes of making it a two-possession game. However, a missed snap by Brown sent the Ducks all the way back to their own 1-yard line. 

Oregon was forced to punt, and the Utes gained possession at Oregon's 45-yard line. A 41-yard rush by Rising led to running back T.J. Pledger scoring from four yards out to push Utah's lead to 31-3 after a successful two-point conversion from a Rising rush. 

The Ducks managed to convert their first third-down try of the evening close to the end of the third quarter, as Oregon was previously 0-for-7. 

However, Utah ultimately halted the Ducks shortly after on a failed fourth-down attempt. 

The Utes then went on an 11-play, 62-yard that took 6:32 off the clock and went into the early portion of the fourth quarter to all but officially put the game out of reach thanks to a three-yard rushing touchdown by Thomas, his second of the evening. 

That score put Utah up 38-3 with 10:21 remaining. 

Oregon score its first touchdown of the game with 5:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, thanks to a 12-play, 90-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard rush by running back Travis Dye to make the score 38-10.

The rest of the game was scoreless, officially kicking off a celebration for the Utes when the clock finally hit zero. 

The Utes are now in prime position for a Rose Bowl spot, which would be their first appearance in the prestigious bowl game. 

The College Football Playoff committee will release their final rankings on Sunday following the conclusion of Saturday's conference championship games, which will unveil who and where teams such as Utah, Oregon and everyone else will play. 

For now, however, the Utes look forward to enjoying their first night as Pac-12 champions.