The Utah Utes (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) have lost four games in a row, and they will look to get back to their winning ways against the UCLA Bruins (4-4, 2-3 Pac-12) tonight at Rice-Eccles Stadium at 7:30 p.m. MT on FS1. Neither team has had the success they hoped they would in the 2017 season. The loser will have a losing record in the first week of November when the two teams were picked second (Utah) and third (UCLA) in the preseason Pac-12 media poll.
Josh Rosen did not travel
The UCLA offense is led by quarterback Josh Rosen. However, Rosen did not travel to Utah (per Bruin Report Online) after suffering a throwing hand injury against the Washington Huskies that forced UCLA to play freshman Devon Modster at quarterback in the second half. Rosen missed the game against Utah last year in Los Angeles, Calif. Utah on the other hand has a healthy quarterback in Tyler Huntley. Huntley missed two games with an injury after going out in the first quarter against Arizona. He struggled in his first game back against the Arizona State Sun Devils, but he performed better against the Oregon Ducks, throwing for 293 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Can UCLA stop the run? The Bruins give up 307 yards per game rushing, which is dead last in the Pac-12. (No. 11 is Stanford at 188 rushing yards per game for comparison.) Both the Arizona Wildcats and Stanford Cardinal topped 400 yards rushing on UCLA, and the Texas A&M Aggies and Washington Huskies went over 300 yards on the ground. UCLA struggles with dual threat quarterbacks and misdirection runs. Huntley will have opportunities on the ground to do damage, and Zack Moss could have a big night if he runs the way he did against the USC Trojans. This is not a new problem for the UCLA Bruins, who allowed Joe Williams to run for 332 yards last year. It would not be shocking if Utah had multiple players top 100 yards rushing tonight. Because of the porous rushing defense, teams attempt the fewest passes against UCLA compared to any other team in the conference. UCLA does rank ninth in opposing quarterback rating, illustrating that their passing defense is not great when teams do throw on them.
Who bounces back?
Neither team wants to sit at 4-5 in November. Neither team thought they would be at 4-5 in November. The loser of this game could have trouble making a bowl game. Utah currently sits at the bottom of the Pac-12 South standings, while UCLA is in fourth. UCLA could fall to sixth with a loss and a Colorado win. These two teams were picked just behind USC in the preseason media poll. Both teams were ranked earlier this year. Needless to say, this season has not gone the way that either of the teams thought it would. A win in this game would not put either team in contention for the Pac-12 South, but it would be a good way to start November and could help power either team to a strong finish.