SALT LAKE CITY — Oregon will enter November in the thick of the Pac-12 Championship hunt, after the No. 8 Ducks knocked off No. 15 Utah on Saturday, 35-6, before 53,586 fans in Rice-Eccles Stadium.The Ducks (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) remained within a game of the conference lead by ending Utah’s 18-game home win streak. Oregon hadn’t won at the home of the two-time Pac-12 champs since 2016.Bo Nix accounted for three touchdowns Saturday, helping the Ducks race out to a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter. Playing without quarterback Cameron Rising, the Utes had a tough time sustaining drives, with Tysheem Johnson intercepting two passes and Oregon’s front holding Utah to 2.8 yards per carry.“I thought it was our most complete game,” UO coach Dan Lanning said. “We played a four-quarter game, from start to finish. … It was really complementary football — offense, defense and special teams.”Nix finished the game 24-of-31 for 248 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran for a score. Bucky Irving rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown, and Troy Franklin had another prolific day with eight receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown.A performance like Saturday’s will only burnish Nix’s candidacy for the Heisman Trophy.“I think that’s something that comes with playing really good team football,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to do whatever I can to win games. The guys in the looker room know I want to win a championship.”Oregon entered the day as one of four one-loss teams in the Pac-12 along with USC, Utah and Oregon State, one game behind Washington. The Ducks won their separation game with the Utes, and Oklahoma’s loss should have the Ducks in the mix when the first College Football Playoff rankings of the year are released Tuesday.The Ducks return home next week to host California, a 2:30 p.m. kickoff on Pac-12 Networks. That’s the lone game remaining this season with reserved seats still available in Autzen Stadium.“These guys are ready to grow and get better,” Lanning said. “Our best is ahead of us. The next week is the most important week, and that’s the way it’s gonna continue to be for us moving forward.”Nix and the Ducks were in business from the jump Saturday, with the UO quarterback completing all four of his passes on the opening drive. Nix capped that drive himself with a one-yard touchdown run.After the UO defense turned Utah over on downs, the first Oregon fumble of the season gave the ball back to the Utes, who kicked a field goal. Nix then went 5-for-6 on the ensuing drive that put the Ducks up 14-6, including a 20-yard TD pass to running back Jordan James.“I went up to (Nix) and gave him a hug and said ‘thank you,'” said UO center Jackson Powers-Johnson, a native of Utah. “We do a good part making the offense go, but I want to give all the credit to Bo. He’s an amazing quarterback, he’s an amazing person, he’s an amazing leader.”Johnson’s first interception of the day set up Nix’s touchdown pass to Franklin. That made it 21-3 early in the second quarter, and though Utah’s defense buckled down the remainder of the first half, Oregon’s own defense was up to the task and sent the Ducks into halftime up 21-6.“When we got those big-time third-down stops, it was hard for them to do what they wanted to do,” UO cornerback Jahlil Florence said. “They wanted to keep running it, but we shut the run down.”The third quarter was all Oregon: The Ducks outgained the Utes 149-12, Irving and Traeshon Holden rushed for touchdowns, and Johnson intercepted his second pass of the day. The fourth quarter was scoreless, with the Ducks getting a possession for backup quarterback Ty Thompson late in the game.
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