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Utah coach Kyle Whittingham shielded his eyes from the sun with a play-call sheet as the Ute defense huddled Saturday afternoon, watching the replay intently and hoping Rice-Eccles Stadium's giant video board would reveal something other than the worst moment of the football program's Pac-12 era.

The review? Unfavorable to Utah, resulting in an inconceivable, incomprehensible, inexplicable defeat.

Cover your eyes, everybody: Oregon 30, Utah 28.

And cover your ears, kids: "[expletive] happens," said Ute running back Joe Williams, who then walked off the postgame podium after declaring, "I'm done."

So were the Utes' Rose Bowl hopes, with the double hit of Utah losing and Colorado beating Washington State. Utah's Senior Day observance should have celebrated the dozen-player subset of a class that lived through a 2-7 conference record in 2013 and was positioned to go 7-2 in the league and play in the Pac-12 championship game.

Now, though? Anything else this 8-3 team accomplishes in 2016 will feel hollow, compared with the possibilities that once existed.

This loss will linger for a long time, having earned its own distinction in the litany of defeats that have played into Utah's Game 11 Curse of the past five seasons. For all the good things the Utes have done lately, they couldn't follow through Saturday with the Pac-12 South title available to them in the last two games. All they had to do was beat the downtrodden Ducks, sending them to Colorado with exciting opportunities for trophies and glamorous postseason destinations.

Yet they failed to beat an Oregon team that featured the third-worst defense in the country. The Ducks got only three points out of five drives inside Utah's 40-yard line in the first half, gave the Utes a gift touchdown via Chase Hansen's recovery of a muffed punt and allowed Troy Williams' 30-yard touchdown pass to Evan Moeai with 2:18 left. Somehow, Oregon won.

The Utes "couldn't put a dagger in their heart," Whittingham said.

The Ducks drove 96, 75 and 75 yards against Utah's proud defense for go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The game-winner came with two seconds left. With senior cornerback Brian Allen in coverage, Darren Carrington initially was ruled out of bounds after catching Justin Herbert's 17-yard pass in the back-left corner of the end zone. After a lengthy review, the replay official overturned the call.

Touchdown, Oregon. Heartbreak, Utah. Actually, disgust might be a better label for the reaction in Uteville.

This defeat has to go into the books as Whittingham's worst, considering what was at stake as of Saturday afternoon. Colorado's upset at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2011 comes close, considering the Utes would have represented the South (with USC ineligible) in the Pac-12 title game. But that would have meant a trip to Oregon, and the Ducks were really good in those days.

That's less true now, even if Whittingham's words all week — "They're Oregon," he said repeatedly — were validated. He didn't want to be proven right, to this degree. Whittingham believed his message got through to his players, but the offense couldn't finish enough drives and the defense couldn't stop the Ducks in the fourth quarter.

"Just gotta make a play. We didn't," said defensive end Hunter Dimick, whose two first-quarter sacks gave him the school career record.

"All that falls on me," Whittingham said.

So do all of the Utes' Game 11 failures — losses to Arizona in 2012 and Washington State in '13 with bowl eligibility on the line and to Arizona in '14 and UCLA in '15 with the South title in their sights. Oregon of '16 will finish with the worst record of any of those teams, but the Ducks delivered Saturday. The Utes didn't.

As the transcription dutifully captured Joe Williams' game summary, "We're on to Colorado."

They'll be packing enough regrets to last all winter, and beyond.

Twitter: @tribkurt