Utah began it's showdown against No. 4 Oregon in promising fashion, taking the opening kickoff and driving down the field for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead, and then everything went wrong.
Starting quarterback Kendall Thompson, who was moving the ball with great efficiency against the Ducks' defense, went down with a season-ending knee injury after just two drives in the first quarter. Thompson had run left for a first down and apparently injured his knee on the tackle. On the next play, Thompson threw downfield and collapsed after his knee buckled on the pass. Before leaving the game, Thompson had rushed five times for 28 yards and went 4-of-5 passing for 23 yards.
Running back Devontae Booker fumbled away Utah's second possession after an 84-yard drive had the Utes poised for a second touchdown and a commanding 14-0 lead. Booker would finish the game rushing for 65 yards on 18 carries and have 110 yards receiving with a touchdown.
Utah's defense was proving to be as stout as always, forcing a punt, and turnover on downs on Oregon's first two possessions and generally harassing Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota. Defensive Tackle Lowell Lotulelei sacked Mariota on consecutive plays on the Ducks first drive to push Oregon out of field goal range and force the punt. For the game, the Utes defense registered six tackles for loss and four sacks.
Travis Wilson entered the game to finish what Thompson started. In the second quarter, offensive coordinator Dave Christensen dialed up a play-action pass that Wilson delivered on target to a streaking Kaelin Clay for an apparent 78-yard touchdown. Instead, Clay dropped the ball at the one yard line prior to crossing the goal line. During Clay's "touchdown" celebration, Oregon picked up the fumble and ran it back 99 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
In the second quarter, "Super" Mariota began to assert the Ducks potent offense, scoring two touchdowns and a field goal and putting the Utes in a 24-10 hole at half time. From there, the Utes were playing catchup the rest of the game.
Wilson threw for a season-high 297 yards and two touchdowns, including a nice 4th quarter 13-yarder to tight end Westlee Tonga, but the junior also tossed two crucial interceptions.
The Utes pulled within three points at 27-30 after Tonga's TD reception, but Mariota showed why he's the leading candidate for the stiff-arm trophy and why Oregon is in the playoff discussion. Three touchdowns later, it was pretty well all over and just awaiting the final victory formation.
In a game that saw attrition from both sides of the ball, Utah would also lose 6-5 wide receiver Tim Patrick for the season after he got tangled with an Oregon defender in the endzone.
The Utes will regroup this week for their trip to Palo Alto to take on the Stanford Cardinal (5-4, 3-3). Stanford will be looking for revenge against Utah (6-3, 3-3) after the Utes derailed a possible national title run last season with a 27-21 stunner. Utah will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak in the Pac-12 and gain some momentum into it's final two South division match ups with Arizona and Colorado.