(News4usonline) – The Utah Utes proved one thing in their second encounter of the season against the Oregon Ducks. The message that the Utes sent to the rest of the Pac-12 Conference and to the college football landscape is that they are legit. For the second time this season, Utah put down a beating on Oregon.
This time to the tune of a 38-10 win in the Pac-12 Conference Football Championship at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Very proud of our guys for putting the punctuation on the last Pac-12 game of the year,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said postgame. “[It’s] very difficult to beat a team twice, especially a team the caliber of Oregon. They’re a heck of a group; they’ve got a ton of talent.
“For our guys to be able to do that 13 days ago and then turn around and do it again, that lets you know how tough those guys are, how determined, and the high character level these guys have,” Whittingham added. “It’s been a pleasure to coach them all year long. What we’ve been through this year – it’s been the most difficult year of my coaching career in many respects. Our guys and our leadership – we couldn’t have done it without those guys.”
The winner of the Pac-12 Conference title game automatically is invited and plays in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Utes will be making their first appearance in the Rose Bowl Game. After going through the Oregon cycle a second time, Utah will square off on New Year’s Day against No. 7 Ohio State.
Utah star linebacker Devin Lloyd, who returned an interception back for a 34-yard touchdown, said after the game that he was happy that his team managed to pull out another victory against the Ducks.
“I’m just so excited and filled with joy and excitement for everyone on the team who’s sacrificed these last nine months just giving everything they have,” said Lloyd, who was named the game’s MVP. “This is the outcome of that and I couldn’t be any more proud of my team.”
The outcome of this game was similar to the first time these two teams met up. In the first meeting, Utah handed the Ducks a 38-7 thumping. This is the first time in five tries that Oregon has lost a game in the Pac-12 Conference Football Championship.
The Utes, who led 23-0 at halftime, earned this win by being physical and playing excellent defense. Utah held Oregon to less than 100 yards rushing the football and limited the Ducks to 221 yards in total offense.
“I thought of this motto: if we stop the run, then we can have fun,” Utah defensive lineman Mika Tafua said. “We can start pass-rushing, getting to the quarterback. But we’re not going to be able to do that if we can’t stop the run. Everybody just bought in, assignment-sound football. Nobody’s perfect, but for the most part, everyone was executing. That’s all a good run defense is, is execution. I feel like we did that.”
While the Utes celebrate their victory, they do it with fallen teammates Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan in mind. Lowe was tragically killed in a shooting at a house party early in September this year. Jordan lost his life in a shooting accident in 2020.
“It’s as satisfying as it gets, just to know that we did honor them the right way. Up to this point, we did everything we can, for them. It’s as satisfying as it gets,” Lloyd said.
Utah quarterback Cameron Rising, who completed 15 of 24 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown against Oregon, echoed what Lloyd said about honoring Lowe and Jordan.
“Right with what Devin said. It etches their name[s] in history too. That’s really what we talked about doing all year, and really wanted to get done…I’m grateful for this team,” Rising said.
Tafua said the loss of both Lowe and Jordan was a spark of inspiration for the team.
“Those are our brothers,” remarked Tafua. “We had a lot of motivation going into the season. But losing Aaron in the middle of the season, that was tough. Especially someone that was around us, who was really close to Ty. For something tragic like that to happen definitely motivated everyone.
“Like we say, 22% better every day. This was for them. This really was for Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan so that we could etch their name[s] in history. If we didn’t win tonight, it would’ve just been a cool story. But now, when they look at the 2021 Pac-12 Champions, they’ll always remember 22, and Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan.”
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.