Pac-12 Championship Game: Oregon Beats Utah 37-15; Verdell Runs for 208 Yards

Jake Curtis

Utah's thoughts of getting into the College Football Playoff ended with a thud in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday night in Santa Clara, Calif.

The fifth-ranked Utes were dominated by No. 13 Oregon, which rolled to a 37-15 victory over the favored Utes, who lost in the conference title game for the second straight year.

As a result, Oregon (11-2) will head to the Rose Bowl, and Utah (11-2) presumably will be relegated to the Alamo Bowl, a far cry from the national semifinal game Utah was hoping for.

It means Oklahoma will no doubt earn a berth in the College Football Playoff if Georgia loses to LSU and the Sooners beat Baylor on Saturday. If Baylor wins and Georgia loses, Baylor may get into the four-team national championship playoff.

If Georgia wins, however, all bets are off, as the Bulldogs will remain in the top four in the final CFP rankings along with Ohio State, LSU and Clemson.

Oregon running back CJ Verdell rushed for 208 yards on Friday, and his 70-yard touchdown run midway through the final quarter gave the Ducks a 30-15 lead and foiled Utah’s comeback attempt.

The Utes had closed a 20-0 halftime deficit to 23-15 by the end of the third quarter. But Verdell’s long run stopped the comeback.

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert did not do much in the second half but finished 14-for-26 for 193 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. He also ran for

Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley was 17-for-29 for 193, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw only two interceptions over the first 12 games.

Utah running back Zack Moss had 113 yards rushing.

Pregame: Pac-12 South division champ Utah (11-1) faces North division winner Oregon (10-2) in the Pac-12 championship game, televised by ABC starting at 5 p.m. Pacific time.

A Utah win gives the Utes a chance to get into the College Football Playoff, but the results of the SEC championship game between LSU and Georgia and the Big 12 title game between Oklahoma and Baylor will impact the Utes' chances. Utah needs Georgia and Oklahoma to lose.

At worst, a Utah win would get the Utes into the Rose Bowl.

The Utes have never won a Pac-12 title in football.

Oregon might get to the Rose Bowl whether it wins or loses against Utah, although a Rose Bowl berth is a certainty only if the Ducks win Friday.

 Oregon kicks off, Utah takes over at 25

11:43 first quarter: Oregon stops Utah's Zack Moss short on a fourth-and-1 play at the Oregon 33-yard line on the game's first possession. The Utes had two cracks at it on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1, and Moss stopped for no gain each time. A 20-yard completion to Jaylen Dixon helped Utah get into Oregon terrotory on that first possession.

11:35 first quarter: Oregon's top receiver, Johnny Johnson III, leaves the game with an injury. Unclear whether he will return.

Johnson back two plays later.

8:00 first quarter: Oregon scores first, marching 67 yards for the touchdown. Runs of 9 and 13 yards by Justin Herbert were key in the drive, and a 12-yard completion to Jaylon Redd got the ball to the Utah 3-yard line. CJ Verdell ran it in from there. OREGON 7, UTAH 0

7:08 first quarter: Three-and-out for Utah on its second possession.

4:17 first quarter: Oregon increases its lead to 10 points with a 23-yard field goal, but Utah has to feel good limiting the Ducks to three after Oregon had a first down at the Utah-2-yard line.  A 50-yard completion from Herbert to Juwan Johnson put the ball at the Utah 2, but Oregon could not push it in. An illegal procedure penalty on thrird-and-goal was critical. OREGON 10, UTAH 0

1:56 first quarter: Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux blocks a Utah punt, giving Oregon the ball at the Utah 43. But Oregon loses ground on the possession.

0:34 first quarter: Utah's Moss has a 42-yard run that gets the ball to the Oregon 38, but Huntley throws an interception to Brady Breeze in the end zone on the next play.

END FIRST QUARTER: OREGON 10, UTAH 0. Utah had 114 total yards, Oregon had 106.

12:12 2nd quarter: Rain starts falling.

11:41 2nd quarter: Utah safety Julian Blackmon leaves with leg injury. He is on crutches and will not return.

11:02 2nd quarter: Oregon lengthens its lead to 17 points on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Johnny Johnson III, who was wide open. It completed a 77-yard drive. OREGON 17, UTAH 0 

8:59 2nd quarter: Ducks make another fourth-down stop, tackling Huntley for no gain on a fourth-and-2 at the Oregon 31-yard line.

4:56 2nd quarter: Camden Lewis' 30-yard field goal pushed the margin to 20 points. A 33-yard completion to Johnny Johnson III was the key play in that drive. OREGON 20, UTAH 0.

HALFTIME: OREGON 20, UTAH 0 -- Oregon has 263 yards in the first half, Utah has 168. Herbert was 11-for-18 for 178 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, and Huntley was 7-of-12 for 75 yards, no scores and one interception.

Utah got into Oregon territory five times in the first half, but could not get close enough to score.

10:52 3rd quarter: Utah gets on the board on its first possession of the second half. A 24-yard touchdown pass to Zack Moss got the points, but the effort of Solomon Enis on the previous play to get a first down on a third-and-10 play allowed it to happen. OREGON 20, UTAH 7.

7:45 3rd quarter: Oregon again stops Utah on a fourth-and-short situation, as Huntley throws an incompletion on fourth-and-2 at midfield. It was the Ducks' third fourth-down stop of the game.

4:56 3rd quarter: The Ducks upped its lead to 16 points on Camden Lewis' 25-yard field goal. A 24-yard run by CJ Verdel;l put Oregon in position for the field-goal try. OREGON 23, UTAH 7.

1:13 3rd quarter: Utah got within eight pointson a touchdown and two-point coversion. A 33-yard run by Moss accompanied by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty against Oregon but the Utes in position for Huntley's 25-yard touchdown pass to Samson Nacua. Huntley then passed to Nacua for the two-point conversion. OREGON 23, UTAH 15.

END THIRD QUARTER: OREGON 23, UTAH 15 -- Herbert was 4-for-10 in the third quarter

9:28 4th quarter: Utah stopped at Oregon 41-yard line and punts.

7:09 4th quarter: Oregon gets what could be a back-breaking score when CJ Verdell runs 70 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-1 play. OREGON 30, UTAH 15.

2:33 4th quarter: Verdell rus 31 yards for another Oregon touchdown. OREGON 37, UTAH 15

FINAL SCORE: OREGON 37, UTAH 15

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