Posted on December 07, 2019, by Travis Pulver

Heading into Championship Weekend, the College Football Playoffs were close to set. Ohio State, LSU, and Clemson are in, but Georgia will be out barring an upset win over LSU in the SEC title game. That meant the Utah Utes could get the Pac-12 back in the CFP with a win over Oregon Friday night in the Pac-12 title game.      

As it turns out, the Oregon Ducks had a different outcome in mind.

Oregon Wins Pac-12 Championship

The game was expected to be a battle of wills between two of the best defenses in college football. Could Oregon’s top ten units (points per game allowed) slow down Utah’s potent offense? Or would Utah’s No. 3 defense (total yards allowed per game) rule the day?

As it turns out, Justin Herbert and the Oregon offense ruled the day.

Herbert did not have a great statistical day (14-26 for 193 yards and a touchdown). However, with a lot of help from running back C.J. Verdell (18 carries for 209 yards and three touchdowns), he was able to lead the Duck to points on their first two drives of the game (10-0).

But Utah’s defense failed to do much against the Oregon offense for much of the first half. So, with Oregon’s defense shutting down the Utah offense, the Ducks were able to take a commanding 20-0 lead into the half.

But the Utes were not going to go down without a fight. They got on the scoreboard finally with a touchdown on their first drive of the half. Their defense responded by holding the Ducks to three and outs on three of their first four drives of the second half (they recorded a field goal with the other).

As a result, this gave the offense time to work–and it did. A seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive late in the third allowed the Utes to pull within a touchdown 23-15.

Consequently, it began to look like the Pac-12 Championship game as shaping up to have an incredible finish. But then C.J. Verdel broke free for a 70-yard touchdown run to put the Ducks ahead, 30-15 with 7:09 to play. 

Verdell added a 31-yard touchdown run later in the quarter to put the game out of reach, 37-15.

“Unfortunately we came up short tonight,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said after the game, via ESPN. “Disappointing thing is we lost in the one area we’ve been undefeated this year: line of scrimmage. We didn’t win the line of scrimmage for the first time all season, which is like I say, disappointing. Surprising, really.”

CFP Impact

With two losses, the CFP was out of the equation for the Ducks. However, a Pac-12 Championship would get the Ducks a Rose Bowl bid.

But now the door is open for the Baylor Bears or Oklahoma Sooners to walk through after winning the Big 12 title game. That is, unless No. 8 Wisconsin can take down Ohio State. So, as shocking as that would be, they could leap over Baylor and Oklahoma.

Ohio State and Oklahoma are favored to win their respective games.    

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