The last visit to the Rose Bowl for Utah did not end well. In their 31-10 loss, the Utes began the 2006 season with a loss and a whole host of questions ... specifically surrounding their quarterback position. It was, without a doubt, one of the most disappointing losses of Kyle Whittingham's early career here. It also foretold of struggle ... as the Utes would ride an up and down roller coaster the remainder of the season before settling on an 8-5 record.
In that game, Whittingham inexplicably took out Brett Ratliff after he threw a touchdown pass to Brent Casteel to tie the game up and inserted Oklahoma Sooners transfer Tommy Grady (he now plays for the AFL's Utah Blaze) - Grady subsequently threw a pick-six and the game fell apart after that point.
Utah left Pasadena demoralized and with more questions than when they entered. That game was supposed to be their coming out party of sorts ... as many in the media predicted not only a Mountain West title, but the possibility of busting the BCS only two years after they first did it.
Alas, that UCLA game amplified the flaws we would see a few times that season - namely against Boise State, Wyoming and New Mexico and left us, for a good portion of 2006, demoralized about our prospects.
So, what's in store for Utah tomorrow? They've never won on the road against the Bruins and it's pretty evident this game could dictate how the remainder of the season plays out. Has Utah matured as a program since 2006? Most definitely ... but they still have a lot of questions that need answering.
Will they answer them against UCLA?
Will they win?
I hope on both, but realistically concede this game poses some difficulties for a program still, it feels like, in transition. But the Bruins are beatable and that alone gives me hope.
I say ... Utah by five.