In Utah’s annual blackout game, the Utes were deep in the red in one critical category. Utah had a minus-five turnover margin Thursday against No. 12 UCLA. Its offense hardly generated anything throughout the entire second half as it fell to 1-7 against top 25 opponents since losing to TCU in 2010.
Travis Wilson (22-43, 288 yards, two touchdowns) threw six interceptions, including three in the third quarter. Some weren’t on him, however, as several passes went through his receivers’ hands. Geoff Norwood let one get past him late in the third stanza, after the Utes were on the move following a fourth-down conversion.
Later, however, Wilson had his own problems. With his team down one score, Wilson's pass sailed and was intercepted. Then he threw another pick on his offense’s final play, when it was within sight of the end zone.
The Utah offensive line struggled against UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and a mighty Bruin defensive line. It gave up a sack on third down late in the third quarter. Ultimately, the entire unit lacked firepower for almost the entire second half against the nation’s 29th-best scoring defense. GRADE: C-
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and hails the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. firstname.lastname@example.org | @wilklogan
Brett Hundley (17-27, 211 yards, one touchdown, one interception), a Heisman candidate, entered Salt Lake City with 157 rushing yards in three games. Until three minutes remained, the UCLA signal-caller had been bottled, having managed just 13 yards on the ground. But then his untouched, 36-yard scamper on third-and-long gave the Bruins enough distance.
Cornerback Keith McGill led an otherwise stout Utah defense against the third-best scoring offense in the nation. McGill’s pick-six early in the fourth quarter tied it at 24.
The Bruins came into the game with the fewest penalties in the Pac-12. It wasn’t quite as apt Thursday, as it committed 13 penalties for 100 yards. GRADE: B+
A Reggie Porter block-in-the-back penalty in the third quarter drew the Utes from UCLA territory to their own 34.
Delshawn McClellon also didn’t process game circumstances correctly when he opted not to return a kickoff with his team down 10 with three minutes to go.
Andy Phillips was once again impressive, making field goals of 44 and 37 yards. GRADE: B-
Kyle Whittingham and Co. made a gutsy call late in the third quarter by going for it on fourth down in their own territory. Whittingham kept up with much-heralded UCLA head coach Jim Mora. GRADE: B+
With both teams playing for deceased UCLA player Nick Pasquale, a hard-fought contest ensued. Ultimately, it was remarkable that the Utes kept up with the Bruins despite a half-dozen turnovers. GRADE: C+