Utah (6-4) picked up its third straight Pac-12 victory, as the defense and John White IV took center stage again in beating UCLA (5-5) 31-6, on Saturday night.
Five keys to Utah's victory:
Utes running back John White IV
Utah fed him all night long, as White -- who seemed to get stronger as the game went on -- got 33 carries and finished with 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also caught one pass for a 13-yard score.
Teammate John Cullen deserves an assist on a first-half play that was initially ruled a touchdown, but then ruled White down on the 1-yard line. On the play, Cullen literally carried White at least five yards.
The defense kept the Utes in the game during the first half when the Bruins had the lead and the offense wasn't doing much, and then helped Utah lengthen its lead later.
Big plays by Brian Blechen, Joe Kruger, Eric Rowe, Conroy Black, Nai Fotu and others highlighted another solid effort.
Black had two interceptions (including a pick six), and other than a couple of receptions for at least 20 yards, Utah's defense did some bending, but never broke, and didn't allow the Bruins a touchdown.
Another contributing factor was undisciplined and silly play by the Bruins, resulting in more than a couple handfuls of infractions.
UCLA racked up 10 penalties for 76 yards before Utah's first, a late hit just before halftime. In all, the Bruins totaled 12 flags for 91 yards.
On the other hand, Utah stayed relatively clean with just 4 penalties for 35 yards.
Utah quarterback Jon Hays
His final numbers were definitely nothing special, but Hays made some plays when needed and threw a touchdown, and then basically got out of the way the rest of the time.
Hays finished with 67 yards on 5-of-13 passing (including the scoring pass to White), and added eight yards on the ground on three carries.
For the most part, Hays made smart decisions, not doing more than what he realizes his capabilities are.
The Utes' coaching staff implemented a good game plan, playing to their strengths (most notably White) while relying on their proven defense.
Obviously understanding the limitations of the offense (most notably a passing game) with Jordan Wynn out, the coaches have figured out how to devise a solid way to win Pac-12 games during their less-than-stellar end of the season schedule.
Chris, who has been covering sports ranging from high school preps to professional teams for almost twenty years, feels that football season is the best time of the year. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.