A week ago, Utah was the team to beat in the South Division and a serious threat to win the Pac-12.
Now the Utes will limp into the against Oregon on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium without their starting quarterback or star running back.
Zack Moss, who had rushed for 1,092 yards and 11 touchdowns through nine games, will miss Saturday’s game and likely the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered during Wednesday’s practice, according to a Salt Lake Tribune report.
Utah lost quarterback Tyler Huntley to a broken collarbone during last week’s loss at Arizona State.
“A big-time guy. He’s an NFL guy,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said of Moss, a junior from Hialeah, Fla., earlier this week. “I know him well; he’s from my neck of the woods. He’s about 45 minutes north of where I grew up, so I watched him play high school football. He has developed tremendously in their program.”
Moss was on pace to set Utah’s single-season and career rushing records this season.
Junior Armand Shyne (166 yards) and freshman TJ Green (91 yards) will have to step into the spotlight for the Utes.
Oregon’s defense will be without starting inside linebacker Kaulana Apelu (fractured) for the rest of the regular season, but defensive end Austin Faoliu returned from injury against UCLA to bolster Jim Leavitt’s unit.
“You get Austin back and now you’re looking at guys that have a little more dirt on their shirts,” defensive line coach Joe Salave’a said. “It’s good, it raises the morale.”
The Ducks are still without starting left tackle Penei Sewell due to injury and will not have starting center Jake Hanson for the first half due to a suspension for a targeting call against the Bruins.
“Our focus is on Oregon. They are every bit as good of a football team as Arizona State, so we have our hands full,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said earlier this week. “They are very talented, tremendous quarterback, and (have) a receiver that is putting up big numbers. They run the ball efficiently and they are scoring a bunch of points, so they are a big challenge.
“We have to be ready to go, put this behind us and move forward.”