UCLA Football: Staff predictions vs. eighth-ranked Utah Utes
The UCLA football team is riding a three-game winning streak and could tie for the PAC-12 South lead with a surprise win on Saturday.
The UCLA football team has had such a rollercoaster season. At points, it looked like there was no point of return for the Bruins and it looked like Chip Kelly was preliminarily on the hot seat. However, after winning three games in a row, the UCLA football team is just one game behind the PAC-12 South leaders.
The leaders are the Utah Utes, who the Bruins are set to face on Saturday. The Utes are the eighth-ranked team in the country and are going to be a massive challenge for the Bruins to overcome.
If UCLA can get the job done and shock the world, however, then they will be tied for first in the PAC-12 South. Beating the Utes would actually put the Bruins in a really good position to win the division for the first time since 2012.
The Bruins would have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Utah. And if they can beat the USC Trojans next week, it would clinch the division.
A lot of things still need to happen for that to be a reality and first the Bruins have to get past their biggest challenge of the season. Here is how the LA Sports Hub staff sees it going down.
Jamaal Artis (7-8): 35-10, Utah
The UCLA Bruins reward after taking a three-game winning streak into a bye week is a showdown with the Utah Utes in Provo, Utah.
The Bruins are one game back of the Utes in the PAC-12 South Division standings an upset win and suddenly they are in the driver’s seat for a place in the PAC-12 title game.
Bruins fans can dream but their resurgence ends against the Utes. The Utes are the PAC-12 leaders in average points allowed (12.2) and average yard per game (246.3).
Hil Lopez (7-9): 27-20, Utah
The Bruins take on Utah on the road after a bye week. They are riding a three-game winning streak and have an outside chance at qualifying for a bowl game if they are able to win their next two games.
However, I cannot see that happening. Utah only has one loss on the season, and it was to USC on the road. This time they are at home and they are a perfect 5-0 in home games.UCLA has played great the last couple games, but they will fall short in this one along with their bowl hopes.
Redan Lopez (11-6): 35-25, Utah
This is a big one for both teams. The Bruins are riding a surprising three-game winning streak, and the Utes are riding a five-game one. The Bruins have turned their season around are just one game behind the Utes for the lead in the Pac-12 South. However, that’s as close as they are going to get.
Utah is on a mission to get consideration for the National Championship and will do anything to make it happen. Despite a scare against the Huskies last week, the Utes held on.
They are still one of the best defensive teams in the league, holding all opponents to under 20 points with the exception of 2 (USC – 30, Washington – 28 last week). I think the Bruins will score above 20, but it will not be enough.
The Pac-12 South title is for the Utes to lose as they are in control of their own destiny.
Jason Reed (10-7): 38-35, UCLA
Is the UCLA football team huge underdogs in this game? Yes. Am I crazy for picking them to win this game outright? Also, yes.
The Bruins can be really good when they are firing on all cylinders and we got a taste of that in their miraculous comeback win against Washington State. However, they can also be really bad at times, which we have seen far too often this season.
If Joshua Kelley can have a huge game, which he is capable, then it will open up a plethora of other things for the Bruins offense and they might be able to hang with the Utes in a slugfest.
Is it unlikely? Yes, it is. Do I think it will happen? Well, I sure hope so.