For the first time this season, a Power Five conference team has officially claimed a division title.
While it was far from impressive, Oregon made enough plays on the road against an underrated Utah squad to head back to Eugene with a 51-27 win. As is usually the case, Marcus Mariota did more than his fair share to push the team to a win.
The Heisman front-runner, Mariota posted 353 yards of total offense — 239 passing, 114 rushing. He totaled four touchdowns, three passing and one rushing. Royce Freeman ran for 99 yards and scored the Ducks’ final touchdown to put the exclamation point on the win.
It was, though, also a costly loss for the Ducks as they lost starting tight end Pharoah Brown to what’s likely season-ending injury and starting center Hroniss Grasu to an injury of unknown severity.
The Utes were able to get back to within 27-20 late in the third quarter after a bonehead play ripped away all of its first-half momentum, but were never able to get any closer. In the loss, Travis Wilson managed his first career 300-yard passing game even though he didn’t start.
The flip side is Wilson came into the game as the only quarterback in the country with at least 150 attempts to not throw an interception; he threw two to the Ducks.
Oregon is now 6-1 in Pac-12 play with two games remaining. Even if they were to lose their next two games, the Ducks would still finish tied with Stanford at 6-3 if the Cardinal (3-3) wins its three remaining league games. As UO holds the head-to-head tiebreaker on the basis of a win over Stanford last weekend, it has officially clinched the Pac-12 North and a spot in the conference championship game.
The win also added to an already impressive résumé for the Ducks when it comes to the College Football Playoff. In addition to the victory over Utah (No. 17 in the latest CFP rankings), UO can claim wins over Michigan State and UCLA, which were Nos. 8 and 18, respectively, in the latest rankings.
Oregon came into Week 11 ranked No. 4; with No. 3 Auburn’s loss, UO should take over as the highest-rated one-loss team.