UCLA 34, Utah 27: Safety Anthony Jefferson

Safety Anthony Jefferson grabbed the first two interceptions of his career Thursday night against Utah’s Travis Wilson, whose 44 pass attempts were the most UCLA has seen this season. “I think it was a great test for us,” Jefferson said. “Utah’s a great football team. They came out, took their shots early, and I think we made our plays.”

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Bruins leave Utah with gritty win, preserve perfect record

SALT LAKE CITY — If nothing else, UCLA avoided the roughest weather.

An hour or so before Thursday night’s kickoff, snow swirled over Rice-Eccles Stadium for five minutes before quickly giving way to sunshine. Almost immediately after the clock ran down on the Bruins’ 34-27 win over Utah, the sky again turned white.

A bit of serendipity, perhaps.

There was much of that for the Bruins on the field, even in a messy effort that saw the loss of multiple starters. Before a sellout crowd of over 40,000 black shirts, they preserved a perfect record and a precious 1-0 start to Pac-12 play. For the first time since 2005, the team is 4-0.

“We’re gonna take that,” head coach Jim Mora said. Continue reading

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UCLA survives Utah, 34-27

In a game pock-marked by fumbles, injuries, interceptions and flags, UCLA survived an ugly game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, beating Utah, 34-27 to open its Pac-12 schedule. The Bruins grabbed six interceptions after entering Thursday with just one on the season, with freshman linebacker Myles Jack snuffing out the Utes last-ditch drive.

Brett Hundley, who appeared to injure his eye during the game, finished with 17 of 27 passing, 211 yards and a touchdown. He added one more touchdown catch from Devin Fuller. Running back Jordon James left the game near the end of the first half with an ankle injury and did not return.

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At a glance: No. 12 UCLA at Utah

No. 12 UCLA (3-0) at Utah (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12)
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Oct. 3, 7 p.m. PT
TV: Fox Sports 1 (Justin Kutcher, Petros Papadakis, Joel Klatt, Kristina Pink)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Last meeting: UCLA beat Utah, 21-14, at the Rose Bowl in a game that required some key defensive stops.
2012 records: Bruins (9-5, 6-3); Utes (5-7, 3-6)

Key storylines: UCLA has had some rough trips to Salt Lake City. In 2011, the Bruins lost 31-6 on a snow-covered field. In 2007, they were shellacked 44-6 by a Utah squad that ended the season with a Holiday Bowl victory. Continue reading

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Xavier Su’a-Filo (sort of) explains choosing UCLA

In today’s football notebook, Utah native Xavier Su’a-Filo talked about what it means to finally play in his home state as a collegiate athlete. A former state champion, his return will happen in the same place where he helped Timpview High to its third straight state title.

He also touched on his decision to leave the Beehive State for Los Angeles four years ago:

“I feel like the morning of signing day, UCLA felt like the right place for me. I couldn’t exactly explain to you why I felt that way. Even when my freshman year came, I was still a little curious why. I just felt like it was the right thing to do.”

He didn’t waver after his mission ended. Continue reading

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Noel Mazzone praises Utah’s physical defensive line

Even without All-American tackle Star Lotulelei, Utah’s defensive front is still physical and disciplined.

“Maybe they don’t have the marquee name guy like they did last year,” Bruins offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said, “but I think the defensive line for them is probably the best front four we’ve gone against.”

Mazzone also pointed out the longevity of the Utes’ schemes. Head coach Kyle Whittingham has kept defensive coordinator Kalani Fifita Sitake on his staff for all nine of his years in Salt Lake City, though the latter spent the first four as linebackers coach.

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