Utah Utes running back Tavion Thomas (9) celebrates his touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A little more than a month ago, it appeared that Utah’s hopes of repeating as Pac-12 champions might be fleeting fast.

The Utes lost 42-32 at UCLA on Oct. 8 — their first conference loss. They surrendered 511 yards to quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and running back Zach Charbonnet. 

But here we are in mid-November, with two weeks remaining in the regular season, and Utah, No. 13 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings, finds itself in position to win another title. 

Coming off of Saturday’s 42-7 demolition of Stanford, the Utes are 8-2 overall and 6-1 in league play, just ½ game behind first-place USC (9-1, 7-1). The Utes handed the No. 8 Trojans their only loss of the season on Oct. 15 at Rice-Eccles Stadium.  

Next up is a much-anticipated showdown at No. 6 Oregon (8-2, 6-1), which is tied with Utah in the league standings. The Utes visit the Ducks Saturday (8:30 p.m., MST, ESPN). 

Oregon is coming off a 37-34 home loss to No. 25 Washington (8-2, 5-2). The Ducks suffered their first Pac-12 loss and they were eliminated from College Football Playoff consideration. Oregon saw its 23-game home winning streak snapped, too.

Later that night, No. 12 UCLA (8-2, 5-2) got beat at home 34-28 by Arizona. 

While things could get even crazier the next two weeks, particularly with USC and UCLA squaring off this weekend, Utah controls its own destiny in terms of reaching the Pac-12 championship game in Las Vegas on Dec. 2. 

The Utes need to beat Oregon and then defeat Colorado in the regular-season finale in Boulder on Nov. 26 and they’re in. 

Right now, five teams are still in contention — Utah, Oregon, USC, UCLA and Washington. And it’s not inconceivable that there could be a five-way tie for first place, if all of those teams finish conference play at 7-2. 


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Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


‘We gotta win’: Utah set to visit wounded Oregon with much at stake

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