Autzen Stadium hosted its final game of the 2022 season -- the third top-25 showdown in Eugene this year. And it didn't disappoint, as the No. 12 Oregon Ducks earned a hard-fought 20-17 win over the No. 10 Utah Utes.
Tonight's game will go a long way in determining who will face No. 7 USC in the Pac-12 Championship and it had everything a football fan could hope for: late-game turnovers, amazing catches, players fighting through injury for their teams. It was at times sloppy, but this edition of Oregon-Utah was always entertaining.
In a game where all of the talk surrounded whether Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, it was Oregon's defense that won the game Saturday night. Before Saturday, Oregon was surrendering a Pac-12-worst 289.7 passing yards a game. On Saturday, Utah quarterback Cam Rising threw for just 170 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions -- his worst game this season.
The player of the game for the Ducks has to be do-it-all defensive back Bennett Williams. His two interceptions and 14 tackles on senior night is a more-than-fitting way for him to bid farewell to Autzen. Linebacker Noah Sewell also had his best game of the season, recording eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a huge interception on a pass that was deflected by defensive lineman Keyon Ware-Hudson.
The first and second halves told entirely different stories.
The first half saw Nix fighting through his injured right ankle effortlessly, completing 16 of his 21 throws for 189 yards and a touchdown. The only thing holding Oregon back in the first half was Dont'e Thornton's fumble and Jamal Hill's targeting ejection.
The Ducks led 17-3 at the half and were in complete control.
The second half, however, saw the Ducks' offense struggle severely. Nix's injury became more apparent, and the offensive play-calling became questionable as the quarterback's game regressed.
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Things got off to a rocky start on the first play of the second half, as Ty Thompson started at quarterback and there was a fumble during his exchange with Thornton on a head-scratching play that led to a scoop-and-score for Utah's Karene Reid. The other two Ducks' drives in the third quarter were three-and-out's.
The fourth quarter alone was as hectic as possible, despite only three points being scored on Camden Lewis field goal. The defenses went at it, with back-to-back plays interceptions in the middle of the fourth.
Oregon punted after Williams' second pick, then put the clamps on one last time. Rising threw three straight incomplete passes on Utah's last offensive drive.
Not long after, Oregon found themselves in a 3rd-and-1 and Utah had no timeouts. For the first time all game, Nix called his own number on a QB keeper and laid out to gain the crucial first down and run out the remaining clock.
The Ducks will travel up to Corvallis next week to play their arch-rivals the Oregon State Beavers. Should the Ducks win, they will face USC in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Championship the following week.
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