Obviously, it hasn’t been easy for Utah adjusting to the Pac-12. But this year it feels a lot more natural and less out of place. It’s not just the promising start to the season, but the ability to shift the shape of the conference, which now comes after a 30-28 win over UCLA, ruining the undefeated bid for the Bruins.
Utah have already put one team in turmoil this season after beating Michigan 26-10 in Ann Arbor. Things weren’t exactly peachy for Brady Hoke at that point, but it’s simply gotten worse since, and it feels like the embarrassing loss to Utah was a trigger in the storm that’s engulfing a proud but ailing football program over the last month.
For UCLA, there’s no storm. These are great days for the program, with Jim More leading them to conference championship games and eventually into the top 10. Maybe it has a lot more to do with the talent of Brett Hundley at quarterback than just the coaching, but the win in Texas and over Arizona State were about more than just one player. This slip at home against Utah shouldn’t have happened.
But UCLA found it difficult to run the ball or stop the run, while Brett Hundley threw an interception. Utah kept going to Devontae Booker, rushing for 156 yards on 33 carries, while Utah stuck to the ground. Their quarterbacks attempted just 18 passes, with Kendal Thompson doing most of the work, throwing one touchdown pass and rushing for 83 more.
It came down to one field goal with 34 seconds in the game, as Andy Phillips hit one from 29 yards. UCLA were chasing Utah all game long, but finally managed to get the lead with 4:50 left in the game. But their inability to stop the run or force any turnovers created the opportunity for Utah to create a huge upset for a second straight year.
Last season it was their win over Stanford that shook the rankings and changed the picture in the higher echelon of the AP Poll and then, the BCS rankings as well. Now it’s a bit early in the season to deem anything doomed and done, it’s certainly a rough hit to recover from. Utah, in the South division, are in the running for the conference championship game, despite their one point loss to Washington State ,just like UCLA, Arizona State, USC and obviously Arizona.