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Three Up and Three Down: Oregon Beats Utah 20-17

This game wasn’t the prettiest game to watch but Oregon beat Utah 20-17 to stay alive in the Pac-12 championship race.
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The best teams find a way to rebound, and after the Ducks got punched against Washington, they rebounded against Utah on Saturday night. While it certainly wasn't a pretty game the Ducks got the win.

Here's our weekly three up and three down from a week 12 win.

Three up

1. Two Bs (Bo and Bucky)

Quarterback Bo Nix and running back Bucky Irving have been the engine that keeps this Oregon offensive machine running. And they kept that up today. Irving had 20 yards on the ground and Nix threw for 287 yards. This was an especially big night for Nix after he was hurt in the fourth quarter last week against Washington.

Nix did everything Oregon asked of him and battled all night while clearly not being 100%.

Irving also proved that he’ll be a massive part of the offense going forward, as he’s only a sophomore. Nix has one year of eligibility remaining, so we’ll have to wait and see if he’ll be back.

2. Kris Hutson

Wide receiver Kris Hutson became quite the center of attention this week. Fueling speculation that Nix might be out for this game, he was Nix’s go-to option. Coming out and firing on all cylinders, Hutson totaled up 56 yards on nine catches, and while he may not have racked up a lot of yards they were critical--46 came after the catch. This was big for Oregon as they were able to have another receiving threat to help fellow wideout Don’t’e Thornton. Thornton himself had a good night as well with four catches and led the team with 151 receiving yards.

3. Managing momentum swings

Oregon hit the ground running, scoring fast and often in the first half. That’s been one of the keys all season--you get out fast, put up points, and you've got a chance to win the game. This was especially important this game as Oregon couldn’t maintain it and finish the most important drive last week against Washington.

Oregon was able to force Utah to play catch up for most of the game. The Utes did tie it up in the third quarter while the offense looked out of sorts, but the defense stepped up and forced turnovers when they were needed most.

Perhaps for the first time this season we saw Oregon's defense win the day and carry the offense.

READ MORE: What Dan Lanning said after Oregon beat Utah

3 down

1. Getting off the field on third downs

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I will admit, the defense stepped up BIG this game. They forced a couple of big turnovers and helped set up the offense for some big drives. There’s still an issue though, they can’t seem to get off the field when they need to--which leaves them gassed and allows opponents to stay in games.

Utah put up a total of 326 yards, had 23 first downs, and was 8-for-15 on third downs. As mentioned, this has been a big problem for the Ducks, forcing the offense to have to play in some wild shootouts (i.e UW, WSU.)

2. Targeting calls...again

Oregon has had three players called for four targeting penalties in the span of about six weeks, including two for safety Jamal Hill. Fortunately for the Ducks, Hill's ejection came in the first half on Saturday so he won't miss any of the Oregon State game. 

This has been a recurring theme for the Ducks this year, and Lanning has addressed it.

"We gotta coach better on our end of hitting in the strike zone, doing a good job being in the target zone and coach tackling better on our part," he said earlier this season. "It's disappointing. You hate to lose players and you want to play in moments like this, big games like this.”

3. Fumbles

Oregon uncharacteristically gave up two big fumbles in this game, including one at the beginning of the second half, which brought the within one score. 

The first fumble was a drive killer that gave Utah some momentum, but the Ducks were able to quickly get the ball back. The second fumble was a huge momentum swing, allowing the Utes to get back into the game and keeping it close the whole second half.

Oregon now plays for a spot in the Pc-12 title game as well as state bragging rights as the Ducks now head up the I-5 to play the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis.

READ MORE: Oregon gets revenge, beats Utah in 20-17 thriller

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