Bleeding Red: Duck troubles continue to haunt Utes

As Halloween draws nearer
Utes’ dreams of wins are dimmer
Last game Utah had no luck
Losing again to the Ducks

COMMENTARY – Oregon decided to celebrate Halloween early this past Saturday and showed up dressed as pterodactyls instead of ducks for the game against Utah. Meanwhile the Utes seemed to forget to dress up like football players as the Ducks (Pterodactyls) became the hunter instead of the hunted and pummeled Utah for its fourth straight loss.

utesThe Utes are now the sole owners of last place in the Pac-12 South. The good news is that they are not yet last place in the entire conference. That honor belongs to Oregon State, which has yet to win a game in conference play (although they did have a near-miss against Stanford over the weekend). Utah is clearly tanking on purpose to get a high pick in next year’s draft. Now, if only someone would tell them that there is no draft in college football then maybe they would start winning some games.

“Another tough loss, another disappointing loss,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “The short version would be that we didn’t run the ball well enough and we didn’t defend the run well enough. That was the big, overriding factor in the game, and the outcome of the game. We seem to be missing that edge, we’ve got to get that edge back.”

On Oct. 31, the College Football Playoff Rankings will be revealed for the first time this season. Up until now, the Utes had appeared in all of the playoff rankings. At this point it is pretty much a lock that for the first time, Utah will not be included in the rankings this season. In fact, if they don’t figure out a way to turn things around, their bowl eligibility may be in jeopardy. The way things are going, the Utes may not even be good enough to make the Vegas Bowl. Now that is a scary thought!

The oregon Ducks seem to have Utah’s number, no matter the sport. (AP Photo/George Frey)

I thought Oregon was only a problem for Utah in basketball, but it appears that football is now becoming a problem as well. For those that need a refresher, the Ducks seem to have a knack for keeping the Runnin’ Utes from success on the court. Since joining the Pac-12 in the 2011-2012 season, Utah has met Oregon on the hardwood 13 times (including postseason meetings) and has only been victorious a single time, a 72-62 win in Salt Lake City back in March of 2013. Not only have the Runnin’ Utes lost nearly every game to the Ducks since joining the Pac-12, but Oregon has knocked Utah out of three of the last five Pac-12 Tournaments. Two of those games were in the semifinal round and the other was in the championship game.

On the gridiron, the Ducks have recently been a problem for the Utes as well. Last year, Utah was in a close race for the Pac-12 South title until Oregon came to Salt Lake. The Ducks defeated the Utes in a close game and pretty much sank all hope for a trip to the Pac-12 Championship game. Last Saturday, Utah desperately needed a win after dropping three games in a row and the then 1-4 Oregon Ducks appeared to be the perfect matchup to get the Utes back on track. The Ducks, however, had a different plan.

Utah at Oregon, Eugene, Ore., Feb. 16, 2017 | AP Photo

It appears that Oregon is more frequently getting in Utah’s way, regardless of the sport. With each defeat it is becoming more apparent that if the Utes ever want to make it to the top of the Pac-12 of either football or men’s basketball, they need to find a way to take down the Ducks. How they will do that I do not know, but fans hope they will figure it out soon. 

Meanwhile, the season continues to march on. There are only four more games left in the season and none of them are going to be easy. Next up is a meeting with UCLA in Rice Eccles Stadium on Friday.

“We’re 4-4 with four to go and we can go one of two directions,” Whitttingham said. “We can either continue to take our lumps and not play as well as we need to, or we can get back on track and get back to playing football the way we know we are capable of playing.
“That’s our entire focus right now … we’ve shifted to making sure we try to get these seniors to a bowl game. That’s a point of emphasis, and the goal right now is to make sure these players, these seniors, get the opportunity to play in a bowl game this year, because they’ve done so much for our program. They’ve won over 30 games the last three-and-a-half years.”

Here’s hoping that Utah can pull out of their slump and get back to winning!

Bleeding Red is sports column written by Josh Vance. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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