Utah Football Seeks Bounce-Back Win Against UCLA


Kevin Cody

University of Utah wide receiver and redshirt freshman Devaughn Vele in a University of Utah football game against the USC Trojans on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The University of Utah football team is preparing for a consequential matchup this Saturday against the UCLA Bruins at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah is coming off a disappointing loss to the Oregon State Beavers, and could use a tick in the win column as they continue their run at the Pac-12 South title. 

This is a meaningful matchup for the Utes, as UCLA is one of their key competitors in the South. The Bruins have two losses in conference play, to Oregon and Arizona State. Utah’s one loss was to Oregon State last week. If UCLA beats Utah at home in this game, it becomes much harder to win the division as the Bruins gain the tiebreaker and tie Utah in the loss column. Arizona State also sits at one loss, with that defeat earned by Utah a few weeks ago.

The Pac-12 South is a three-team race right now, and it’s likely to come down to the wire. A victory here goes a long way towards creating separation between Utah and their two competitors, as they’d grab the head-to-head victory over both and stay at just one loss in conference play. Utah still has to play top-10-ranked Oregon later in the season, so a win here gives them even more breathing room in case they suffer another loss later on.

Utah’s defense was put to the test against OSU’s electric offense, and the Beavers had a really good night moving the ball, hanging 42 points on the Utes. That kind of performance will not get them very far against UCLA, which has one of the best offenses in the conference this season. 

The Bruins have a potent rushing attack, and Utah has struggled against good running games all season. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is a quality quarterback and is coming off a 220-yard performance in a loss to Oregon last week. Thompson-Robinson suffered an injury to his throwing hand in last week’s game, but he appears on track to start this weekend as he has been back at practice over the last few days. If he can’t go, freshman Ethan Garbers would get the start.

Offensively, Utah has been finding more of a rhythm every week as quarterback Cameron Rising gets more comfortable. Running back Tavion Thomas had perhaps his best game of the season last week. The wide receivers have been coming along, with Devaughn Vele breaking out. The tight end group has been the most dominant in the Pac-12.

Utah needs this game, and they know it. It may be the most important game left on their schedule for the regular season as they continue to pursue a Pac-12 South title.

The game is scheduled for kickoff at 8 p.m. MDT on Saturday, Oct. 30. It will be the Dark Mode game and fans are encouraged to dress in black on the night before Halloween.


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