Hoping to avoid a fifth straight loss, the Utah Utes are back in action Friday night (7:30 p.m. MT, FS1) when they host the UCLA Bruins.
Here are six numbers to get you ready for the Pac-12 matchup.
For the first time since the College Football Playoff Poll’s inception, Utah finds itself unranked. The Utes had been somewhere in the top 25 in the first 19 weekly polls produced to determine the final four. This definitely does not come as a surprise to Ute fans, but let us hope the boys in Crimson can right the ship quickly.
Good thing the game is not played on paper. ESPN has given UCLA a 58.8 percent chance of victory on Friday. According to their metrics, Utah is only favored to win one more game: a season-ender against Colorado. Utah is still two wins away from that magical number that grants bowl eligibility, and with opportunities dwindling, Friday might just be a must-win situation.
Utah has never fared well against the Bruins. In 15 total games, Utah has only come out the victor four times. A .267 percentage is not great unless you are a member of the Dodgers and then you could probably be playing starting shortstop for them.
Back to football, Josh Rosen has thrown for a lot of yards. So far this season he has amassed 2,713 passing yards which put him sixth in the nation. UCLA likes to throw the ball, and they like to do it a lot. Rosen has 20 touchdowns on the season and UCLA ranks fourth in total pass yards a game. Rosen will get plenty of work on Friday which means the Ute defensive backs better come prepared.
Utah’s offense might see the field plenty as well. UCLA has given up 196 first downs in eight games, by far one of the worst in the nation in this category. An even more astonishing number is that 34 of those first downs have come from penalties. Almost half of UCLA’s penalties result in first downs for the opposition. The Bruins' lack of discipline on defense might be costly and a turning point in the game.
The Bruins also like to give up yards to opposing offenses. UCLA ranks 120th in the nation in total defense allowing 487.5 yards a game, and the scoring defense is not much better with the Bruins allowing 37.6 points a game. Rosen can throw the ball and score in bunches, but the Bruin defense might let him down once again. Utah’s offense has been paltry at best, but one holds out hope for a revival and redemption after the past few weeks of play.
Prediction: Utah 31, UCLA 28
Cameron Wood is a graduate of Weber State University and a teacher and coach at St. Joseph Catholic High School in Ogden, Utah. Email: [email protected]. Follow on twitter @camwood03.