Utah batters No. 8 UCLA’s playoff hopes with 30-28 upset

Utah Utes place kicker Andy Phillips (39) kicks a 29 yard field goal in the fourth quarter as Utah defeats UCLA Bruins 30-28 at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 4, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Utah Utes place kicker Andy Phillips (39) kicks a 29 yard field goal in the fourth quarter as Utah defeats UCLA Bruins 30-28 at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 4, 2014. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

PASADENA >> The college football elite fell this week, one thunderous collapse after another.

No. 2 Oregon couldn’t hold off Arizona on Thursday. Two days later, others fell too: No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 6 Texas A&M.

So you could forgive eighth-ranked UCLA if it walked into the Rose Bowl on Saturday night with a little bit of extra swagger. Coming off a blowout road victory, they had a 74,329 of fans watching them — hoping to glimpse what, by next morning, would be a top-five team.

Utah made sure that didn’t happen.

All throughout their 30-28 upset win, the Utes knocked around UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, racking up 10 sacks by the end of the night. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior took his first on just his third snap of the game, and took another four by the end of the first half. Continue reading

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Utah 30, UCLA 28: Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich

In their 30-28 upset of UCLA on Saturday night, Utah set up its go-ahead field goal with nine straight runs for 63 yards. Overall, the Bruins gave up 242 yards on the ground, a season-high by 78.

“Great defenses gotta stop the run when you know they’re gonna run,” said UCLA defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. “We knew they were gonna run, and we didn’t.”

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Utah 30, UCLA 28: Head coach Jim Mora

No. 8 UCLA lost its first game of the season on Saturday, Oct. 4, falling 30-28 to an upset-minded Utah squad.

“We all bear responsibility for that loss,” said Bruin head coach Jim Mora. “Every single coach, every single player. It doesn’t matter if it was offense, defense, special teams or coaching — we could have done a better job.”

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What to watch: No. 8 UCLA vs. Utah

UCLA returns to the Rose Bowl tonight at 7:30 p.m. to host Utah, a program that has given the Bruins a good fight their last few meetings despite ending each season with a lackluster record. Jim Mora’s team looked uneven out of the gate this season, but appears to be rounding closer to the playoff-contending form most analysts expected.

A few things to watch for in the matchup:

UCLA offense vs. Utah defense: On paper, Utah’s defense looks excellent across the board. The Utes rank eighth in the country in sacks (18), 19th in opponent passing yards per attempt (5.8), 21st in rushing yards per attempt (2.97), 29th in scoring defense (19.8).

Defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake hasn’t been afraid to dial up pressure from the outside. Defensive ends Nate Orchard, Hunter Dimick and Jason Fanaika have combined for 10 sacks, as well as 46 tackles. Orchard has also dropped back in certain formations, and has two pass breakups and two passes defended. Linebackers Jared Norris and Gionni Paul have also been effective: the former leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss, while the latter with the interceptions.

The defense has also only surrendered one rushing touchdown this season, something only eight other teams in the FBS can claim. Continue reading

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