When: Saturday, October 4 -- 10:30 PM EST
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
2014 Season: UCLA (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12), Utah (1-3, 1-1 C-USA)
Online streaming: WatchESPN
The UCLA team we saw last week against Arizona State is what we expected from the Bruins all year long. The offense flat out did whatever they wanted against the Sun Devils defense, racking up 500-plus total yards en route to a 62-27 victory. While the defense allowed 600-plus total yards to Mike Bercovici and the Arizona State offense, but finished with four takeaways (one for a score) to keep Brett Hundley and the offense on the field as much as possible.
It's another division opponent on the docket with Utah heading into the Rose Bowl tonight, after the Utes were on the wrong end of a Washington State comeback in Salt Lake City last weekend. Can UCLA dominate on the field again, or will the Utes pull off the upset to jump into the Pac-12 South discussion? Three keys to victory for the Bruins:
1. Shut down Devontae Booker
Booker is the leading rusher Utah for the Utes, racking up 355 yards on 6.5 YPC through the first four games of the year. He had a career outing against Washington State last week with 178 yards on 24 carries, good for a monster average of 7.4 YPC. The Cougs were able to adjust by adding more players in the box as the game went on, and Booker's production dipped in the second half.
UCLA's rush defense has done well in preventing big plays on the ground and limit opposing RBs production so far this season. Bruins should load the box often on first down. If they can limit Booker and the Utah rushing attack, they can make the Utes offense one-dimensional and take advantage of the average passing attack (11th in Pac-12)
2. Protect Brett Hundley
The glaring problem for this UCLA team early was allowing too many sacks up front, surrendering 11 in the first three games this season. They front five was at it's best against Arizona State, however, allowing just one sack en route to a romping of the Sun Devils. They'll have a big test with a great Utah front seven coming to Pasadena this weekend.
Utah has 18.0 total sacks this year, good for 5th best in the country, with defensive ends Jason Fanaika and Nate Orchard combined for 8.0 of those.
The Utes will defintely look to set the tone early with a lot of blitzes and pressure on Hundley, but if the front line can repeat their performance from last week, there's no limit to how effective the Bruins can be on offense with Hundley at the helm.
3. Continue feeding Paul Perkins
What a year Paul Perkins is having as RB1 for the Bruins this season.
Through the first four games, Perkins has 77 carries, 471 yards (5.7 YPC), and two scores, with two 100-yard outings on his resume as well. His vision has been continually improving in each game we've seen him in this year, finding the running lanes and pounding forward for extra yardage. The fact that he's only a sophomore leaves so much to wonder how big of a star he can be for the Bruins team going forward.
He'll be tested against a Utah defense that is allowing just 3.0 YPC this year, and have allowed just one 100-yard in 2014. If the line can create holes for him, and Noel Mazzone gives him the ball early and often, Perkins could have another big game to push the Bruins to 5-0 heading into next week's match up with Oregon.
Prediction: UCLA 37, Utah 28