Oct 28, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws the ball downfield against the Utah Utes during the first half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

Bo Nix, No. 8 Oregon cruise past No. 13 Utah

Bo Nix passed for two touchdowns and ran for another to help No. 8 Oregon roll to a 35-6 victory over No. 13 Utah on Saturday afternoon in Pac-12 play at Salt Lake City.

Tysheem Johnson intercepted two passes as the Ducks (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) won their second straight game. Bucky Irving rushed for a score and accumulated 119 scrimmage yards (83 rushing, 36 receiving) for Oregon.

Nix completed 24 of 31 passes while furthering his Heisman Trophy chances. Troy Franklin caught eight passes for 99 yards and one touchdown, Jordan James also had a scoring reception and Traeshon Holden was credited with a rushing touchdown.

Bryson Barnes completed 15 of 29 passes for 136 yards and two interceptions for Utah (6-2, 3-2), which had its 18-game home winning streak halted. Devaughn Vele caught seven passes for 80 yards for the Utes, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Two-way player Sione Vaki had just 11 rushing yards on five carries after having 217 offensive yards (149 receiving, 68 rushing) last week in a win over Southern California.

The Ducks had a 390-241 edge in total offense while defeating Utah for the 11th time in the past 16 meetings.

Oregon held a 15-point halftime lead and seized further control with two third-quarter touchdowns.

Irving scored on a 9-yard run to make it 28-6 with 8:44 left in the third quarter. Two-plus minutes later, Holden received a lateral from Nix and scored from the 5 to boost the lead to 29.

Nix accounted for three first-half touchdowns as Oregon led 21-6 at the break.

Nix scored on a 1-yard run to cap the Ducks’ game-opening drive. After Utah’s Cole Becker kicked a 32-yard field goal later in the first quarter, Nix tossed an 18-yard scoring pass to James to make it 14-3 with 18 seconds left in the period.

Nix connected with Franklin on a 3-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 18 with 12:29 left in the half. Becker kicked a 30-yard field goal as time expired.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Utah Utes running back Sione Vaki (28) carries the ball against the Southern California Trojans in the second half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oregon vs. Utah: Preview, Props and Prediction

The first College Football Playoff rankings are released on Tuesday, and it’s perhaps fitting to happen on Halloween.

While the clock won’t strike midnight and turn contenders into pumpkins just yet, the time is now for a few teams to turn up the intensity.

Oregon and Utah meet Saturday in what is almost certainly a CFP “loser out” matchup.

Despite a disappointing loss by USC at Notre Dame, the Pac-12 is enjoying a high-profile position in its final season as we know it. The rising tide has lifted all boats, including the Ducks and Utes.

Saturday’s matchup in Salt Lake carries realistic CFP implications in particular for the Ducks. With only one defeat, Oregon would likely be on the good side of a CFP final four vote if it wins out.

We have a tasty parlay for our betting choice along with news, notes and quotes.

–Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., ET
–Television: Fox
–Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City.
–Point Spread, Total: Oregon -6.5; Total 47.5

QUICK PICK
Among the myriad factors applied to the CFP ranking system is strength of schedule; not only the opponents, but the opponents of those opponents.

Follow me?

That means the Pac-12’s top half, five of whom are in this week’s AP Top 25, brings serious substance to conference contenders.

Oregon’s lone loss was at No. 5 Washington; Utah fell to No. 19 Oregon State – and upset USC last Saturday in Los Angeles.

In an atypical year – Pac-12 fans aren’t so readily able to complain about a lack of national respect – Oregon lost very little CFP traction in its 36-33 road defeat in Seattle.

The Action Network power ratings, for example, have the Ducks all the way up at No. 4. The ratings, according to Action, “aim to judge the true quality of a team based on advanced metrics, coaching changes, year-over-year roster continuity … and a host of other underlying components.”

Ducks QB Bo Nix, who sits sixth on the BetMGM Heisman futures list, faces a make-or-break Saturday but is skilled and experienced enough to handle the road pressure.

Bookmakers opened Oregon as a three-point favorite but saw the early money drive the spread past six points.

The Ducks now have enough video of Utah quarterbacks Bryson Barnes – who threw three TDs and rushed for 57 yards against USC – and backup Nate Johnson to cultivate a winning defensive scheme.

The pick: Oregon 27, Utah 21
The bet: Alternate spread/total: Oregon -2.5, Total over 41.5 (+100 at BetMGM).

THE NEWS

The Ducks have more firepower with an offense that ranks second nationally in scoring (47 points per game) and total offense (551.6 yards per game).

Nix, who made his NCAA-record 54th career start at quarterback last week, has passed for 2,089 yards, 19 touchdowns and one interception this season. That pick is the lone turnover committed by the Ducks, who have the fewest in the nation.

Utah is tied for third with just four turnovers.

The Utes rank 96th in scoring (23.4 ppg) and 98th in total offense (345.0 ypg). The attack has been spruced up by having standout safety Sione Vaki (tied for the team lead with 35 tackles) play on both sides of the ball.

Vaki caught two touchdown passes and compiled 217 yards last week in Utah’s 34-32 road victory over then-No. 18 Southern California. He caught five passes for 149 yards and rushed nine times for 68 more.

“The impact he makes on offense is actually bigger than the impact he has on defense,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “And he’s one of the best safeties in the country, so that tells you how valuable he has been for us.”

Utah ranks 11th in scoring defense (15.0 ppg) and 14th in total defense (295.4 ypg).

The Utes, No. 5 nationally in rush defense at 78 yards per game, face a daunting challenge in trying to execute a repeat performance on Ducks standout Bucky Irving.

Irving, who has rolled up 649 rushing yards this season, had just 20 yards on 10 carries in Oregon’s 20-17 home win over the Utes last season.

He scored three touchdowns last week against Washington State when he put up a season-best 129 yards and posted 127 rushing yards against Washington.

THEY SAID IT
“I would say his heart is pounding out of his chest. This dude is so passionate, he cares so much for his teammates and never goes down on first contact. Really selfless player, and I think that really shows up when you see this guy play on the field.”

–Oregon coach Dan Lanning on Ducks running back Bucky Irving

–Field Level Media

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix throws out a pass during warm ups as the No. 9 Oregon Ducks host Washington State Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore.

No. 8 Oregon, No. 13 Utah clash in likely elimination match

It is a virtual elimination game Saturday when No. 8 Oregon faces No. 13 Utah in Salt Lake City.

Both teams are 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Pac-12. The team that loses falls out of national championship consideration.

“Big game in the conference picture,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said his Monday news conference. “They’re a one-loss team, as are we. Both our backs are to the wall. Hopefully it will be a great football game.”

Utah’s lone blemish is a 21-7 defeat at then-No. 19 Oregon State on Sept. 29. The Ducks lost 36-33 at then-No. 7 Washington in a battle of unbeatens on Oct. 14.

Oregon coach Dan Lanning shares Whittingham’s view that it’s a must-win game.

“This is gonna be a fun opponent,” Lanning said at his Monday news conference. “A really good team, extremely well coached. They’ve done a phenomenal job of utilizing their personnel and have some really talented players on their team.”

The Ducks have more firepower with an offense that ranks second nationally in scoring (47 points per game) and total offense (551.6 yards per game).

Oregon also features standout quarterback Bo Nix, who made his NCAA-record 54th career start at quarterback last week in the Ducks’ 38-24 home win over Washington State. Five other quarterbacks shared the record at 53 (though current Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman is in that group.)

Nix has passed for 2,089 yards, 19 touchdowns and one interception this season. That pick is the lone turnover committed by the Ducks, who have the fewest in the nation. Utah is tied for third with just four turnovers.

The Utes rank 96th in scoring (23.4 ppg) and 98th in total offense (345.0 ypg), but the attack has been spruced up by having standout safety Sione Vaki (tied for the team lead with 35 tackles) play on both sides of the ball.

Vaki caught two touchdown passes and had 217 offensive yards last week in Utah’s 34-32 road victory over then-No. 18 Southern California. He caught five passes for 149 yards and rushed nine times for 68 more.

“It’s been a big plus for our offense to say the least to have him over there,” Whittington said. “The impact he makes on offense is actually bigger than the impact he has on defense. And he’s one of the best safeties in the country, so that tells you how valuable he has been for us.”

Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes had career bests of 235 yards and three touchdowns against USC but also threw an interception that was returned for a score. He also rushed for a touchdown.

Barnes will continue to run the show after the weekend news that standout Cam Rising won’t play this season. Rising sustained a serious knee injury in the Rose Bowl against Penn State on Jan. 2.

Utah ranks 11th in scoring defense (15.0 ppg) and 14th in total defense (295.4 ypg) but can’t just worry about stopping Nix.

The fifth-ranked run defense (78.0 ypg) will look to lasso Ducks running back Bucky Irving (649 rushing yards) for the second straight season. Irving had just 20 yards on 10 carries in Oregon’s 20-17 home win over the Utes last season.

Irving accounted for three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) and ran for a season-best 129 yards against Washington State. One week earlier, he rushed for 127 yards against Washington.

“I would say his heart is pounding out of his chest. This dude is so passionate, he cares so much for his teammates and never goes down on first contact,” Lanning said of Irving’s running style. “Really selfless player, and I think that really shows up when you see this guy play on the field.”

Oregon has won 10 of the past 15 meetings with the Utes.

–Field Level Media

Aug 31, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Cameron Rising (7), out with an injury warms his quarterback up at halftime against the Florida Gators at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Utah QB Cam Rising (knee) won’t play this season

Utah starting quarterback Cam Rising, sidelined due to a knee injury sustained in the Rose Bowl in January, will not play in 2023.

Coach Kyle Whittingham made the announcement following Utah’s win over Southern California on Saturday night.

Utah entered the game ranked No. 14 and led by quarterback Bryson Barnes, who completed 14 of 23 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns in the 34-32, last-second win over the Trojans. He added 57 rushing yards and a touchdown.

In an interview in October, Rising detailed the injuries to his left knee.

“I wasn’t really expecting to do this, but I think it’s important that I just let everybody know that I didn’t just tear my ACL,” Rising said during an appearance on “The Bill Riley Show,” a sports talk radio program and podcast in Utah.

“I tore my ACL, meniscus, MPFL and MCL,” he said. “There was a big surgery, and it’s not an easy comeback. I’ve been working my tail off.”

While there had been optimism Rising would play this season for the Utes (6-1), Whittingham shut down that option.

Rising potentially could return for the 2024 season, when he’d be 25. He redshirted at Texas in 2018, sat out 2019 as he transferred to Utah, then played in just one game in 2020 due to injury.

As Utah’s starter in 2021 and ’22, he amassed an 18-6 record as a starter, tallying 15 career games with 200-plus passing yards, including two 300-yard games and one 400-yard-game. He was a Pac-12 All-Conference first-team selection in 2021.

Whittingham also said tight end Brant Kuithe, who continues to recover from an ACL injury, also won’t play this season. Both Kuithe and Rising could apply to the NCAA for a medical redshirt.

“We’ve been hoping for ’em each week, but the medical staff was the ones who made that call,” Whittingham said. “And we’re not going to question that at all. That’s just not how we operate. So it was a medical decision for the rest of the year — it’s probably the safest thing to do for them, gives them the best chance to get back to 100 percent. So I’m 100 percent on board with that.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Utah Utes running back Ja'Quinden Jackson (3) carries the ball against the Southern California Trojans in the first half at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Utah sneaks past No. 18 USC on game-winning FG

Bryson Barnes went 14-of-23 passing for 235 yards with three touchdowns, and his 26-yard run set up Cole Becker’s game-winning, 38-yard field goal as time expired to lift No. 14 Utah to a 34-32 win over No. 18 Southern California on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Utah (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) fell behind 32-31 with 1:46 remaining, moments after Zachariah Branch set up USC in the red zone with a 61-yard punt return.

The Trojans (6-2, 4-1) scored on their first snap of the ensuing possession when Caleb Williams ran 11 yards for a touchdown. It was Williams’ first and only score of the night, as Utah limited the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to 256 yards on 24-of-34 passing and 27 rushing yards.

The Utes denied the Trojans on their two-point conversion attempt before taking over for the game-winning drive.

Bear Alexander was flagged for targeting on a third-down hit on Barnes, resulting in a Utah first down near midfield. Shortly after a fourth-down conversion to extend the drive, Barnes broke loose for the long carry that set up Becker’s game-winning field goal.

Alexander committed another costly penalty, unnecessary roughness, in the third quarter to give Utah a fresh set of downs, which resulted in a 6-yard Barnes TD pass to Landen King.

Barnes’ third touchdown pass came on a 15-yard connection with Sione Vaki, capping a possession that was set up by Cole Bishop’s recovery of a MarShawn Lloyd fumble at the Utah 45. The ensuing 55-yard drive gave Utah a two-touchdown lead at 28-14.

The scoring reception was Vaki’s second of the night after a 53-yarder that began the game’s scoring. Vaki, a safety who stepped in at running back on Saturday, caught five passes for 149 yards.

He added 68 yards rushing on nine carries, complementing Barnes’ 57 yards on 10 rushes and Ja’Quinden Jackson’s game-high 117 yards on 26 touches. Utah outgained USC 247-145 on the ground.

Lloyd led USC with 86 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Branch scored on a goal-line carry.

USC cut into the two-touchdown deficit with a 44-yard Denis Lynch field goal, then Calen Bullock returned an interception of Barnes 30 yards for a Trojans touchdown.

The USC defense held Utah to a 33-yard Becker field goal on a Utes drive into the red zone, which kept the Trojans within a one-possession margin. Lynch’s 36-yard field goal on the following drive helped set the stage for the raucous finish and late lead changes.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; California Golden Bears defensive back Craig Woodson (2) tackles Utah Utes wide receiver Mikey Matthews (0) in the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Sione Vaki carries No. 16 Utah to 34-14 win over Cal

Sione Vaki rushed for 158 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns while also totaling four tackles on defense to help No. 16 Utah to a 34-14 win against visiting Cal in a Pac-12 game on Saturday afternoon.

Vaki, a safety who had one carry on the season coming into the game, sealed the win with a 72-yard touchdown with 6:51 remaining.

Ja’Quinden Jackson added 94 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown for Utah (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12), which finished with 317 rushing yards as a team.

Utah quarterback Bryson Barnes completed 15 of 21 passes for 128 yards and rushed for another 50 yards and a touchdown.

Fernando Mendoza completed 10 of 17 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Cal (3-4, 1-3).

Cal scored on its second drive when Mendoza connected with Jaydn Ott for a 48-yard touchdown with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

An interception by Lander Barton led to a 3-yard touchdown run by Jackson that tied the score 7-7 with 7:56 left in the first half.

Utah quickly got the ball back and marched 89 yards in 15 plays, taking a 14-7 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run by Vaki, who was pushed across the goal line by a couple teammates with 26 seconds left in the opening half.

The Utes received the second-half kickoff and Cole Becker booted a 23-yard field goal to extend the lead to 17-7.

Utah then sacked Mendoza on the next play from scrimmage, forced a fumble and recovered at the Cal 13-yard line. Three plays later, Barnes scored on a 4-yard run for a 24-7 lead with 9:11 left in the third quarter.

Cal answered back with a six-play, 65-yard drive capped by Mendoza’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Taj Davis, cutting the deficit to 24-14 with 4:21 left in the third.

Cal kicker Mateen Bhaghani missed a 30-yard field goal with 7:49 left that would have cut the lead to seven.

On the same drive, Utah’s best defender, safety Cole Bishop, was ejected for targeting, which will force him to miss the first half of next week’s game against No. 10 USC.

After Vaki’s long touchdown run, Becker tacked on a 38-yard field goal with 1:57 left to extend the lead to 34-14.

–Field Level Media

Sep 29, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Nate Johnson (13) scrambles under pressure from Oregon State Beavers defensive back Kitan Oladapo (28) during the second half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Amid QB woes, No. 16 Utah hosts Cal

The availability of Utah quarterback Cameron Rising remains the burning question as the No. 16 Utes prepare to host Cal in a Pac-12 Conference game Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Rising was the MVP of the Pac-12 title game last season but then suffered a significant knee injury against Penn State during the Rose Bowl and needed surgery to repair a torn ACL, meniscus and MCL.

He has seemed to be on the cusp of returning since early in the season, but the senior has yet to play.

“It was a big surgery, and it’s not an easy comeback,” Rising said last week. “I’ve been working my tail off.”

Rising has been doing drills with the Utes in recent weeks, and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has deemed him questionable before games, but each time the quarterback has remained in street clothes.

Whittingham plans to make a decision on Rising earlier than normal leading up to the visit from Cal, but he said he doesn’t intend to reveal his decision.

“If someone can give me one reason why it would help us win more to announce it, then I’ll tell you,” Whittingham said. “I can’t think of one thing.”

If Rising is unable to play, freshman Nate Johnson likely will get another opportunity. He struggled two weeks ago in Utah’s most recent game, a 21-7 loss to Oregon State, completing just 8 of 23 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball nine times for just 3 yards.

Johnson was replaced by Bryson Barnes after starting the game 3-for-12 for 35 yards, but Barnes absorbed a big hit in the fourth quarter and was briefly hospitalized with an undisclosed injury after finishing 5-for-8 for 40 yards.

Another freshman, Brandon Rose, was expected to battle for the backup spot this season, but he suffered an undisclosed injury during a scrimmage before the season and remains unavailable.

Utah (4-1, 1-1) won its first four games of the season before falling to Oregon State. The 21 points surrendered were the most allowed by the Utes this season and the fewest scored by Oregon State.

Cal (3-3, 1-2) has alternated wins and losses this season. The Golden Bears also are coming off a loss to Oregon State, but they made things interesting in the 52-40 defeat in Berkeley, Calif., last week.

Cal trailed by just three points at the start of the fourth quarter before surrendering 17 consecutive points.

“We’ll find out where the defenders are come next week, because boy — and this is not taking anything away from Oregon State because I really do think those guys do a great job coaching — but, man, ooh, that was bad defense right there by us,” Cal coach Justin Wilcox said.

Cal has used three starting quarterbacks this season but is expected to come back with freshman Fernando Mendoza, who completed 21 of 32 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception, in his first college start last weekend.

“He was not perfect but brought energy to the game. You could tell the tempo on offense was different,” Wilcox said. “He threw the ball pretty well, he made some plays with his feet. Overall, I’m very pleased with what Fernando did for his first start in that environment against that defense.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 29, 2023; Corvallis, Oregon, USA; Utah Utes running back Chris Curry (24) is tackled by Oregon State Beavers defensive back Kitan Oladapo (28) during the first half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Oregon St. keeps winning at home, beats No. 10 Utah

Oregon State’s Silas Bolden accounted for two touchdowns and Easton Mascarenas-Arnold recorded a key interception as the No. 19 Beavers notched a 21-7 victory over No. 10 Utah on Friday night in their Pac-12 matchup at Corvallis, Ore.

DJ Uiagalelei completed 14 of 25 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception for the Beavers (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12). Bolden had six receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown and also scored on a 45-yard run.

Damien Martinez rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown for the Beavers, who have won seven straight home games and 14 of their past 15. Oregon State outgained Utah 358 to 198.

Utah (4-1, 0-1) struggled as star quarterback Cam Rising has yet to play this season. Rising tore his left ACL during the Utes’ Rose Bowl loss to Penn State on Jan. 2 but recently returned to practice.

Nate Johnson was just 8-of-23 passing for 101 yards and one touchdown for the Utes. He was initially pulled after Utah’s first series of the third quarter but returned in the fourth quarter after Bryson Barnes got hurt. Barnes was 5 of 8 for 40 yards and one interception.

Thomas Yassmin caught a touchdown pass and Jonah Elliss had two sacks for Utah. Elliss has 5 1/2 sacks over the past two games.

The Beavers took a 14-0 lead on Uiagalelei’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Bolden with 10:43 left in the third quarter. Bolden caught the pass near the sideline at the 20-yard line, avoided one defender and cut in at the 10 to pass another.

Barnes replaced Johnson (3 of 12, 35 yards at the time) after the Oregon State touchdown and the Utah offense immediately perked up. But the 13-play drive unraveled after the Utes reached the Beavers’ 5-yard line.

Joe Golden sacked Barnes for a 6-yard loss on first down, and then a low second-down shotgun snap went through Barnes’ legs and he covered the ball for a loss of 12. On third-and-goal from the 23, Barnes was intercepted by Mascarenas-Arnold with 3:43 left.

Early in the fourth quarter, Oregon State faced fourth-and-1 from the Utah 45 and bunched in tight as if to run a quarterback sneak. Instead, Uiagalelei pitched the ball to Silas, who got outside and raced for the touchdown that made it 21-0.

Yassmin caught a short pass from Johnson and turned it into a 41-yard scoring pass with 5:05 remaining for the Utes.

Oregon State scored on its first possession of the game on Martinez’s 4-yard run with 5:46 left in the first quarter.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Nate Johnson (13) is chased by UCLA Bruins linebacker Darius Muasau (53) in the first quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 10 Utah searches for offense at No. 19 Oregon State

Utah’s defense has been terrific this season, but the No. 10 Utes’ offense could use an upgrade.

That revelation is from Utes quarterback Nate Johnson.

Utah (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) strives to remain unbeaten while increasing its offensive production when it battles No. 19 Oregon State (3-1, 0-1) in a Friday night Pac-12 clash at Corvallis, Ore.

Star quarterback Cam Rising hasn’t played since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament during the Utes’ Jan. 2 Rose Bowl loss to Penn State. Rising has been sharing time with Johnson in practice but has yet to be cleared for game duty.

Bryson Barnes and Johnson split time the first two games before Johnson became the starter for the past two. However, Johnson wasn’t the least bit happy with the meager 219 yards of total offense the Utes compiled during a 14-7 home victory over then-No. 22 UCLA last week.

“I apologize for the way the game was played out,” Johnson wrote on social media after the contest. “Credit to our defense for an amazing performance. We will be better next week. Our offense is still awesome, just things will get cleaned up. See you guys next Friday.”

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who doesn’t participate in social media, didn’t know of Johnson’s sentiments until Monday.

“I’m completely ignorant and oblivious to what he said,” Whittingham said in a news conference. “But that’s admirable if he’s taking accountability. … I take that as a positive thing from Nate that he would point the finger at himself, even though I’m not buying into that.”

Johnson connected on 9 of 17 passes for 117 yards and one touchdown against UCLA.

The Utes’ defense controlled the contest while holding the Bruins to nine net rushing yards and 243 total yards. Standout defensive end Jonah Elliss, the son of former Utah All-American Luther Elliss, established career highs for tackles (10), tackles for loss (five) and sacks (3.5).

Utah is tied for ninth nationally in total defense (263.8 yards per game), ranks sixth in scoring defense (9.5 points per game) and is third in rushing defense (51 yards per game).

Oregon State also is looking for improved quarterback play after DJ Uiagalelei completed half his 34 passes for 198 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 38-35 road loss at then-No. 21 Washington State last week.

In the previous game, Uiagalelei was just 14-for-30 with two interceptions and a scoring pass in a victory over San Diego State.

“Could he play better? One hundred percent,” Beavers coach Jonathan Smith, a former star quarterback at the school, said during his Monday press conference. “We need to protect him. We need to make some plays on the ball. And then he’s got a couple throws that he needs to make.”

Overall, the Clemson transfer has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 828 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

Damien Martinez (432 rushing yards) and Deshaun Fenwick (253) have stood out in the Oregon State backfield with average per carries of 7.6 and 6.8 yards, respectively.

On the defensive side, the Beavers have been stout defending the run, ranking seventh nationally by allowing 69.8 yards per game. Defensive end Sione Lolohea has a team-best 5 1/2 tackles for loss.

The Beavers have won six straight home games and 13 of their past 14 in Corvallis.

Utah has won six of the past seven meetings, including a 42-16 victory last season in Salt Lake City. Oregon State prevailed in the most recent meeting in Corvallis, 42-34 in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive back Kamari Ramsey (27) tackles Utah Utes running back Jaylon Glover (1) in the second quarter at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Utah’s defense overwhelms No. 22 UCLA

Karene Reid’s interception returned for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage set the tone for No. 11-ranked Utah, as the Utes defense overwhelmed No. 22 UCLA en route to a 14-7 Pac-12 Conference win on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Utah (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) held UCLA to just 243 total yards, an average of 3.6 per play, and went until late in the fourth quarter without surrendering a point.

The Utes needed this stout defensive effort, struggling offensively in their own right. Utah managed only 219 total yards with 3.4 per play.

Quarterback Nate Johnson — starting with Cameron Rising still recovering from a torn ACL sustained in last January’s Rose Bowl Game — threw for Utah’s lone offensive score. He found Landen King for a seven-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Utes enough cushion to hold off the Bruins.

UCLA (3-1, 0-1) leaned on the freshman quarterback Dante Moore with the run game rendered ineffective. The Bruins rushed for just nine yards officially, a byproduct of Moore being sacked six times.

Jonah Elliss led the charge with 3.5 sacks. Sione Vaki recorded one on the final defensive snap.

The pressure resulted in Moore finishing with -51 yards. Despite gaining positive yardage on a keeper inside the red zone as the third quarter ended, Moore lost a fumble caused by Logan Fano, keeping the Bruins scoreless.

Moore went 15-of-35 passing for 234 yards and denied Utah its first shutout since 2019 with a 17-yard pass to Josiah Norwood with 3:39 left.

UCLA forced a punt and regained possession with an opportunity to tie, but Vaki’s sack closed a four-and-out turnover on downs.

Johnson finished 9-of-17 passing for 117 yards. Jaylon Glover rushed for 86 yards on 25 carries to lead the Utes. Along with his interception, Reid made nine tackles and broke up a pair of passes.

Kain Medrano had 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks for UCLA.

–Field Level Media