Utah Vs. Oregon Ducks 2015: The Definition Of Humiliation


Early in the fourth quarter, Travis Wilson stood placidly on the Utah sideline, helmet off, cracking a smile while talking with nearby teammates. He watched as his backup trotted onto the field to take his reps in garbage time. His night was done.

Travis Wilson was no longer of use. Utah was in the process of tallying more points t0 a 55-13 slaughter, blowout, beatdown, or whatever word you feel best describes what occurred at Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.

So in an act of


mercy, Kyle Whittingham pulled his starting quarterback (who gutted the Ducks in the most embarrassing home loss in program history). He then called upon the next two quarterbacks on the depth chart in hopes of slowing down the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of Utah points.

In games like tonight’s, it’s a common procedure; one more regularly seen practiced by Oregon. On Saturday night, it was the Ducks who were in desperate need of compassion from their far superior opponent.

Where to begin?

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Vernon Adams was given the start at quarterback for Oregon and tiptoed around the pocket as if land mines were nearby. He looked lost, afraid, tentative, slow, and completely out of his element. For Adams’ sake, it’d be best if his right index finger was the actual reason for his ghastly performance. Only a handful of drives were enough to conclude that the Ducks stood no chance with Adams leading the offense. Jeff Lockie then took the reigns and following a touchdown drive that appeared to be the remedy for Oregon’s struggles, the Lockie magic stalled. It became evident that the Ducks didn’t have the quarterback crisis so widely speculated; they don’t have a serviceable one on the entire roster. Utah only continued to pummel towards the end zone with little resistance from the Oregon defense.

Speaking of defense, the worst in the Pac-12 was once again abysmal on Saturday night.

All hope invested in Oregon’s young secondary to improve promptly vanished after the 62-point drubbing they generously contributed in. This undersized and overmatched unit put on another display of poor tackling and blown coverage. If Mel Kiper Jr. wants a proper evaluation of Connor Cook, Jared Goff, or Cody Kessler’s NFL potential, it’d be best if he didn’t study their games against Oregon — a team whose defense likely couldn’t stop the best intramural team on its very own campus. Hell, an overhead camera made a better play on the ball than any Oregon defender did against Utah.

But the Ducks’ defensive woes go beyond the secondary. Oregon still can’t get to the quarterback consistently. (Any Duck fans still want to claim Arik Armstead was overrated?) And stopping the run has been almost as sad of a site as watching the secondary get toyed with repeatedly. Don Pellum’s “bend, don’t break mentality” is broken, and has been since FCS Eastern Washington dropped forty-two on the Ducks back in Week One.

The offense was no silver lining either and clearly doesn’t possess the firepower to bail out its lackluster defense. Down after down, Utah’s stout front bullied and pushed back the Oregon offensive line. Adams and Lockie were atrocious, but the men entrusted to protect them failed miserably to do so. The Duck’s run game was also stifled, as Royce Freeman was under a constant swarm of Utah defenders. As for the receivers, we’ll give them a fair analysis once this team has a stable quarterback.

It was an all-out Blitzkrieg from the Utes. The Ducks never stood a chance.

As Mark Helfrich leaned forward in his chair in the postgame press conference, he looked surprisingly tranquil. “We’ve got a bunch of work to do,” Helfrich retorted. His ease revealed even his lack of disbelief. But practice can’t save this team from its eventual demise. No, Oregon’s problems can’t be solved on its multi-million dollar practice field. On paper, this group looked destined for a season of mediocrity. Saturday night, its flaws came to fruition.

Oregon got beat over the head with its game plan. The same one that helped transcend the program from respectable to National Powerhouse. Those gutsy trick plays, fake punts, and relentless scoring Duck fans are so accustomed to seeing from their beloved team, were all showcased with precision by the visiting Utes. Oregon could only scratch their heads, baffled at the massacre taking place.

When you lose 62-20 at home in a game you’re favored to win; your gaudy uniforms look more clownish than cutting edge. Your famous uptempo offense looks more gimmicky than innovative. And all the recent success and validation seems so far-removed and irrelevant. There was a moment of confusion as journalists raced to find where exactly the loss resides in the program’s history. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter where this defeat ranks statistically. Saturday’s loss is as bad as it gets.

Optimistically thinking, the Utes might have done this Oregon team a favor: can you imagine if this group of misfits somehow stumbled into the College Football Playoff? If you thought Saturday night was embarrassing, you don’t want to know what the likes of an Ohio State or Alabama would do to this team.

Oregon fans: meet the rebuilding phase. Saturday night revealed that not even almighty Oregon is exempt from growing pains and down years. While Oregon currently belongs among the most elite programs in college football, that membership doesn’t guarantee success on the gridiron every Saturday. In fact, that club requires a renewal every year. Just ask Michigan and Texas.

Oregon’s next opponent is almost too fitting. The Ducks face Colorado — a team accustomed to receiving the pounding the Ducks were given against Utah. But even the perennial laughing stock Buffaloes can lay claim to something the Ducks can’t: a national championship. Hopefully, Oregon shows up with a sense of urgency. Because as we now know, simply showing up is no longer enough. No team fears Oregon like they once did.

And unless a miracle of biblical proportions occurs, this team will likely amass several more losses. So it goes. The cycle of college football supremacy is indifferent, loyal to no team. Oregon will not contend for a National Championship this season. How the rest of the season will unravel is solely dependent on the men in the locker room.

At halftime, as the Ducks faced a modest 13-point deficit, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich challenged his team. “That’s on me. Now, what are we going to do about it?”

Absolutely nothing.