The Utah Utes (2-3) will head west this weekend looking for their first conference win of the season over Pac-12 rival UCLA (4-2).
The Rose Bowl will be rocking in Pasadena, California, where the Bruins will look to bounce back from their most recent home loss three weeks ago at the hands of Oregon State.
Utah is 0-2 on the road this season and has lost three straight Pac-12 games dating back to 2011.
Here, we get you set for Saturday afternoon's underrated clash between the Utes and Bruins.
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
When: Saturday, October 13 at 3 p.m. ET
Listen: ESPN 700 (Salt Lake City), KLAC 570 AM (Southern California)
Live Streaming: Pac-12.com
Betting Line: UCLA (-7), according to Covers.com.
The Utes dismantled UCLA last November, winning 31-6 in Salt Lake City to leave the Bruins with a bitter taste in their mouths heading into 2012. Look for Jim Mora's squad to come out energized and feisty on Saturday, looking to return the beatdown to Utah just 11 months after being embarrassed on the road.
Who May Not Play for Utah
*According to USA Today
OL Latu Heimuli (Undisclosed), questionable for Saturday
OL Vyncent Jones (Undisclosed), questionable for Saturday
OL Marc Pouvave (Achilles), out indefinitely
QB Jordan Wynn (Shoulder), out for season
DT Junior Salt (Foot), out for season
WR Anthony Denham (Shoulder), out for season
DB Keith McGill (Shoulder), out for season
Who May Not Play for UCLA
*According to USA Today
C Greg Capella (Concussion), day-to-day
WR Devin Lucien (Collarbone), out until early December
CB Ishmael Adams (Shoulder), out for season
DE Sam Tai (Knee), out for season
S Dietrich Riley (Neck), out for season
Top 25 Implications
UCLA fell out of the rankings this week after getting blown out at Cal in Week 6. The loss was the Bruins' second in three games and has them in need of a win over Utah in order to climb back into the Top 25.
For Utah, last week's missed opportunity against USC at home will likely cost them any shot at cracking the Top 25 for the next few weeks. The Utes need a win this Saturday at UCLA, and then must go on the road again and defeat a Top 10 Oregon State squad in order to convince the voters they're worthy of being ranked.
What They're Saying
Look for a more spread-life attack from the Utah offense this week. Head coach Kyle Whittingham was high on implementing more of the spread system (via The Salt Lake Tribune's Lya Wadraska):
That is the direction we are headed. It suits us better than what we were doing early on. We have a pretty deep core of receivers and we need to get them more on the field.
The Utes scored three offensive touchdowns against USC last week after scoring just one in their previous matchup against Arizona State.
First-year UCLA head coach Jim Mora acknowledged that the Bruins are still adapting to his new system following their loss at Cal in Week 6 (via the Los Angeles Times' Chris Foster):
We're six games into a new system, new terminology, new way of doing things. We have to continue to push, push, push and get to the point where we're consistent week in and week out.
Mora's team was very consistent to start the season, winning its first three games and upsetting No. 16 Nebraska in Week 2.
Utah Player to Watch
Senior quarterback Jon Hays will be the player to watch for Utah on Saturday. Hays took over early this season for injured starter Jordan Wynn, and has played solid football since stepping in. Hays has completed 59 percent of his passes in 2012, tossing six touchdowns and only two picks.
The 6'1" signal-caller out of California will return to his home state in Week 7 to attempt to earn Utah a much-needed win behind enemy lines.
UCLA Player to Watch
Bruins running back Johnathan Franklin will be the player to watch for UCLA on offense this weekend. The senior Los Angeles native has rushed for 800 yards and three touchdowns through the first six games of the season.
Franklin is averaging 7.4 yards per carry this fall and the Bruins are 4-0 when he rushes for at least 110 yards this season. That will be the magic number on Saturday.
Saturday's key matchup will be the UCLA offense vs. Utah's defense. The Utes have been suspect on the defensive side of the ball as of late, surrendering 37.5 points per game over their last two losses to Arizona State and USC, both prolific offenses.
Meanwhile, UCLA ranks in the Top 25 nationally in terms of passing and rushing offense, putting up more than 530 total yards per week. If Utah can't contain the Bruins' potent attack this weekend, Kyle Whittingham's bunch will be in for a long day.
On the Hot Seat
UCLA freshman quarterback Brett Hundley will be on the hot seat Saturday at the Rose Bowl. The 6'3" Arizona native tossed four interceptions last week in the Bruins' loss at Cal. If Hundley continues to turn the ball over this week against Utah and UCLA loses, then Mora will have to make a decision on which direction to take at quarterback for the last five games of the regular season.
UCLA can't lose two in a row at home can it? I believe in Jim Mora's team this weekend as they go up against a Utah squad that has suffered two demoralizing defeats in a row. The Bruins show much more promise this season and need to get off to a strong start in the second half of their schedule.
UCLA 37, Utah 24
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