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What happened? That’s the question Utah football fans have been asking in the wake of a 37-15 loss to Oregon in last week’s Pac-12 championship game.

Even though there were more what-ifs involved in a 10-3 loss to Washington in last year’s title game, this defeat was more devastating for three reasons: The Utes were No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, the results of other championship games made it clear a semifinal berth was available to them and there’s a question about when Utah ever will have this much talent again.

What happened, then?

Coach Kyle Whittingham’s immediate explanation that the Utes were beaten at the line of scrimmage resonates with me. We all knew Oregon has a great offensive line; that group outplayed Utah’s tough defensive line. Even more decisive was the way the Ducks’ defensive line exploited Utah’s offensive line. I’ve pointed out this season how quarterback Tyler Huntley’s ability to dodge the rush and Zack Moss’ ability to break tackles masked the line’s flaws, but Oregon exposed them.

Tribune columnist Gordon Monson nailed his analysis of what was lost at Levi’s Stadium.

Jeff Faraudo, a longtime Bay Area writer, joined our team to cover the game and focused on the weird phenomenon of Utah’s reaching the Oregon 40-yard line five times without getting to the 30.

The follow-up focused on Utah’s disappointing fourth quarter, with the game still there for the taking.

Sunday, when it was revealed how close the Utes had come to making a New Year’s Six game, their Alamo Bowl bid felt like a letdown.

Any other year, the invitation to San Antonio would have been a bigger deal, with Texas as a brand-name opponent.

Utah’s athletic department has “amended” defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley’s contract for the second time in the calendar year.

We’ve made a open-records request for the new document; Monson is expecting to see a coach-in-waiting agreement with Scalley.

The Pac-12′s annual awards made Ute fans feel either better or worse about the season, with all that talent insufficient to win a conference title. Having eight first-team picks, with Moss as the Offensive Player of the Year and Whittingham as the Coach of the Year, is a celebration for the program. The reality is that all those players are on their way to the NFL in 2020.

Utah’s recruiting is gaining momentum in advance of Wednesday’s December signing period, and the biggest news is quarterback Jake Bentley’s coming from South Carolina as a graduate transfer to compete for Huntley’s vacancy.

The Tribune’s Josh Newman looked at how Huntley’s outstanding season stacked up against the Heisman Trophy finalists.

The Ute men’s basketball team followed its thrilling win over BYU by routing Central Arkansas on Saturday.

Ute sophomore forward Timmy Allen was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for those performances.

Newman looked at how Utah’s freshmen will deal with their first round of college semester final exams this week, while preparing for Saturday’s game vs. Weber State at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

As Newman reported, this will be the last round of the Beehive Classic, with the three-year agreement among the four schools not being extended.

With the football team’s No. 11 CFP final ranking and the women’s cross country team having finished 16th in the NCAA meet, Utah can claim three “Sweet 16” programs this fall. The women’s volleyball team is in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, thanks to a resounding sweep of BYU in Provo. The Utes will play Friday night at No. 3 seed Stanford.

The Ute women’s basketball team won a fifth straight game, defeating Oral Roberts last week. The Utes’ December-long homestand continues Saturday (11:30 a.m.) vs. Nevada, with a holiday party at 10:30 a.m. in the adjacent Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Basketball Facility.

Other voices

Pac-12 expert Jon Wilner wondered why Oregon was treated so poorly, to the benefit of Utah, in the coaches’ voting for the all-conference football awards. (MERC)

The Oregonian’s John Canzano went to the heart of the issue, citing resentment of Nike’s influence on Oregon’s program (ORE).

Joe Coles of the Deseret News noted that women’s basketball player Daneesha Provo may make her first appearance of the season against Nevada (DNEWS). discussed what Bentley’s transfer could mean to Utah (SAT).