Utah (2-3) at UCLA (4-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 3:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rose Bowl (30,406) -- Los Angeles, California. Television: FOX. Home Record: Utah 2-1, UCLA 2-1 Away Record: Utah -2, UCLA 2-1. Neutral Record: Utah 0-0, UCLA 0-0. Conference Record: Utah 0-2, UCLA 1-2. Series Record: UCLA leads 8-2.
GAME NOTES: The UCLA Bruins will try to bounce back from a blowout loss while the Utah Utes look to put an end to a two-game losing skid when the two squads collide at the Rose Bowl for a Pac-12 matchup.
After opening the season at 2-1, Utah has taken a slide backwards with losses in each of its last two games, both coming against conference opponents, including last week's 38-28 setback against USC. Utah is now 2-3 overall and 0-2 in conference action. During the two losses the Utes have been outscored 75-35. The Utes opened last season 2-3 overall and 0-2 in conference play before finishing with an 8-5 overall mark and a 4-5 record against Pac-12 teams.
For the second time, UCLA slipped out of the top-25 a week after claiming a spot. The Bruins entered into play at California ranked No. 25 in the country, but came out the losing end of a 43-17 decision. UCLA has now gone just 1-2 against conference foes after opening the season 3-0 including, a win against Nebraska.
UCLA holds an 8-2 edge in the all-time series but Utah has won each of the last two meetings, including last season's matchup which was the first between the squads as members of the same conference.
Offense has not been a strength for Utah this season as the Utes rank at the bottom of the Pac-12 in total offense (299.4). The Utes are also one of only two teams to have less than 1,000 yards passing in the Pac-12 this season. The Utes' 24.0 point per game has also been less than spectacular, ranking eighth in the Pac-12.
Jon Hays took over at quarterback after Jordan Wynn, who began the season as the starter decided to leave the program. Hays has not been overly productive, completing 59 percent of his passes for 627 yards, six touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. He has yet to throw for 200 yards in a game this season but is coming off of only his second game without being sacked.
The Utes' struggles in the passing game have been nothing compared to the surprising issues in the running game. John White rushed for over 1,500 yards last season but has only 301 through the first four games, while averaging 3.9 yards per carry. That includes a 14-carry, 18-yard effort in a loss to Arizona State.
A primary receiver has yet to establish himself for the Utes as well with eight different players having at least six receptions but none more than 14. Kenneth Scott has been the most explosive with a team-leading 19.6 yards per reception average and three touchdown receptions while Dres Anderson leads the team in receiving yards (163).
Defense has been a bit more of strength for Utah which ranks third in the Pac-12 in total defense (350.0 ypg) this season. In terms of scoring defense, Utah has been more mediocre ranking seventh (24.6 ppg) in the conference. Utah has not been successful in forcing turnovers this season with only eight takeaways this season, which is better than only Colorado.
Star Lotulelei has been solid in plugging the middle of the Utah front line with 22 tackles, five of which have been for loss. Trevor Reilly leads the team in tackles (32) and is tied for the lead in sacks (2.5) with Joe Kruger.
UCLA has been an offensive machine with the Bruins one of only three teams in the Pac-12 and 18 nationally to average more than 500 yards of total offense (530.5 ypg). The Bruins are also scoring at a high rate with a healthy 33.5 point per game average.
In the loss to California, Jim Mora's offense was less effective with 381 yards of total offense and a season-low 17 points scored. Much of the issue was the poor play of freshman quarterback Brett Hundley who threw four interceptions in the loss. Hundley has been solid all season (65.9 completion percentage, 1,723 yards, 13 TDs) and will need to have a short memory to continue that success.
Hundley's favorite target this season has been Shaquelle Evans who has caught 24 passes for 322 yards and a score, while fitting in as the best deep threat for the Bruins. The Bruins have spread the ball around more often on offense however with seven other receivers posting at least 10 receptions.
When Hundley has struggled the Bruins have the luxury of handing off the ball to Johnathan Franklin. The running back has rushed for a Pac-12 leading 800 yards this season with a phenomenal 7.4 yards-per-carry average.
The UCLA defense has struggled, allowing more than 400 yards of total offense (412.5) this season. However, the defensive lapses can partly be blamed on the Bruins' torrid offensive pace, as UCLA does lead the conference in sacks (21), while ranking second in forced turnovers (22).
Anthony Barr is the unit's leading pass rusher with nine tackles for loss, including six sacks. Datone Jones (10 TFL, 3.0 sacks) and Damien Holmes (6.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks) have also been disruptive in opponents backfields. Sheldon Price has made a number of plays on the ball particularly in the passing game where he has recorded four interceptions.
This will be the second road game in as many weeks for UCLA. If the Bruins hope to bounce back Hundley will need to do a better job protecting the ball. If he can do that UCLA will have far too much firepower for Utah.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 35, Utah 27
10/10 10:36:57 ET