For years, UCLA and the PAC-12 have been overlooked when it comes to the top teams in college football.
The Bruins haven’t been ranked at any point in the college football season since Jim Mora led the charge in 2013 and 2014. Since then, it’s been a long road for Chip Kelly and the PAC-12.
The PAC-12 alone as a conference has not had a representative in the college football playoffs since 2016.
Could this be the year that finally changes?
With USC a media darling under Lincoln Riley, the team to take on the Trojans will have to be a challenge good enough to potentially make a run for if needed.
The UCLA Bruins and Utah Utes have shown this season that they are more than capable of challenging their Southern California rivals.
We’ve got everything you need to know about the game here.
#11 Utah Utes vs. $18 UCLA Bruins
Where: Rose Bowl Stadium
When: 3:30 p.m. – ET
How to watch: FOX
Spread: Utah -3.5
It’s been a long road for Chip Kelly since leaving Oregon for the NFL. The former offensive genius has struggled to update his offensive system since joining UCLA and has led his team to just one bowl appearance in four seasons.
This year is a game changer for Kelly as the Bruins prepare to move to the Big Ten. So far, the team has passed the test with flying colors.
Wins against ranked opponents like Washington mixed well with blowout wins against weaker opponents, pushing UCLA into the top 20 for the first time since 2014.
They will, however, have their toughest game this weekend.
Utah’s only loss came in Florida on Opening Day, and the Utes have since chased the rest of the conference. With a game against USC looming a week later, it’s not or never for Utah.
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First to score: Utah -125
The Utes have scored first in every game they’ve played this season, including in Florida. Their ability to get off to a quick start is one of the main reasons for the team’s strong start to the season.
UCLA, on the other hand, only scored first in three of five games, with all three games being against outranked schools.
Utah poses a much tougher problem for UCLA on Saturday and they should be able to start in their usual fast fashion.
UCLA over 30.5 points
The Bruins offense plays and acts like a Chip Kelly offense. There’s a lot of pre-snap moves, there’s a strong emphasis on running, and they run in tempo.
In each of their five games this season, Kelly’s offense has scored over 30 points. Zach Charbonnet is a potential running back in the NFL and has over 400 rushing yards. Dorian Thompson-Robinson also looked very good as a dual-threat quarterback.
While Utah’s defense isn’t one to play with, allowing less than 30 points in every game this season, I think it’s pretty easy to see how the Bruins score early and often in Saturday’s game. .
UCLA first half gap -2.5
As much as the Utes are favored in this game thanks to their better defense and timely offense, the UCLA Bruins are a first-half offense. Chip Kelly struggled to make necessary adjustments late in games and actually lost most of the second halves.
In last week’s win over Washington, the Bruins gave up 16 unanswered points to the Huskies to make the game closer than it looked. I like UCLA’s chances to start early in the second quarter and take a lead before Utah jumps on them with their defense.