2011 Prediction & Game Story
Week 11, UCLA at Utah
Pac-12 Fearless Predictions &
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Nov. 12 at Utah 31 … UCLA 6
CFN Analysis: This might not be quite the season Utah was hoping for, but after some rocky parts early, the wins are coming and it’s yet another bowl season and there’s still a chance to tie for the Pac-12 South title. With Washington State and Colorado to go, an 8-4 regular season is a must considering the offense is starting to work. … John White needs to be a First Team All-Pac-12 performer. If nothing else, he deserves to be an MVP with the way he’s carrying an offense that’s not doing much of anything with the passing game. Jon Hays completed 5-of-13 passes for 67 yards and a score. … This might have been the team’s best overall defensive performance of the year. UCLA had one decent running play, and that was about it.
Was UCLA frozen by the snow? Nothing worked offensively with the passing game failing to keep the chains moving and the running game bottled up. The lines got whipped by the Utes. … The 12 penalties for 91 yards didn’t help. The team played like it was in a funk all game long. … The Colorado game next week should be a win to get to six and a bowl game, and considering Arizona State is slipping and sliding, a shot at the Pac-12 title is still there for the taking. However, a little bit of consistency would be a positive after two great wins before this clunker.
(AP) SALT LAKE CITY -- John White rushed for 167 yards and scored three touchdowns and Conroy Black returned an interception 67 yards for another score to lift Utah to a 31-6 victory over UCLA on Saturday night.
The win makes the Utes (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) bowl eligible for the ninth straight year and gave offensive coordinator Norm Chow another victory against a former team.
With wintry conditions at the start of the game, the Utes became even more one-dimensional behind the diminutive White. He didn't disappoint, vaulting from 10th on Utah's single-season rushing chart all the way to No. 4 with 1,191 yards -- passing Eddie Johnson, Eddie Wide, Keith Williams, Quinton Ganther and Del Rodgers.
UCLA (5-5, 4-3) saw its grip on a possible Pac-12 South title slip away with two Kevin Prince interceptions. The Bruins will need a win at home against Colorado or at USC to qualify for a bowl for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons.
The win was Utah's third straight. Utah's defense, ranked No. 3 overall in the Pac-12, held the Bruins to a pair of Tyler Gonzalez field goals. It intercepted Prince twice, with Black taking the second one back for the TD.
Black was the hero a week ago when he made an end-zone interception in a win over Arizona.
White's 1-yard touchdown run gave Utah a 7-3 lead with 5:34 left in the second quarter. The junior running back accounted for all 39 yards on the scoring drive with seven carries.
Utah quarterback Jon Hays was just 2 for 7 for 5 yards passing in the first half, but was 3 for 3 on the opening drive of the second half. He passed 16 yards to DeVonte Christopher on third-and-5, then hit Dres Anderson for 33 yards over the middle on the next play. He capped the drive with a 13-yard TD pass to White, who had beaten linebacker Sean Westgate in the corner of the end zone, for a 14-3 Utah lead.
White scored on a 22-yard run to give Utah a 21-3 lead with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter.
UCLA cut the gap to 21-6 on Gonzalez's 35-yard field goal early in the fourth, but Black's interception return sent the Bruins limping home.
It was a shocking turnaround for the Bruins, who entered on a two-game winning streak and feeling pretty good about themselves.
Ninety minutes before kickoff, a pair of UCLA offensive linemen could be found playing shirtless in the snow, tossing wobbly passes around like school kids. Not to be outdone, up to a dozen Utah players began warming bare-chested a few minutes later, large flakes falling all around them and starting to stick.
A UCLA sports information official said the Bruins hadn't played a "snow game" in at least 31 years. There were flurries in the EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C., in December 2009 when the Bruins rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to beat Temple 30-21.
But an icy field and wind chill that made it feel like 19 degrees at kickoff were more the issue in that game, which saw the Bruins change game plans at halftime and run plays that required little or no change of direction.
That win gave the Bruins a winning season under coach Rick Neuheisel. This game ended much differently.
UCLA (5-4) at Utah (5-4) Nov. 12, 6:30
Here’s The Deal … At 5-4, UCLA and Utah are both a game away from ensuring themselves a spot in the postseason. However, that’s chump change in terms of the big picture; with a win in Salt Lake City this weekend, the Bruins’ magic number for clinching the Pac-12 South melts down to two. Yup, those same Bruins that were on life support in Tucson just three weeks ago seized control of the division with last Saturday’s pivotal upset of Arizona State, 29-28. Without much warning, UCLA has stabilized with back-to-back wins, setting the stage for an intriguing race to the regular season finish line.
The Utes, too, have rebounded from an atrocious Week 9 effort by winning their first two league games on consecutive Saturdays. Finally getting more consistency from behind center, Utah has stabilized from the loss of starting QB Jordan Wynn, lending hope that the program can carry the momentum throughout November. After feeling somewhat inferior after dropping their first four Pac-12 games to start the season, the Utes are viewing the final three winnable regular season contests as an opportunity to show that they belong.
Why UCLA Might Win: Essentially abandoning the pass, the Bruins are winning with an old-school ground game that’s wearing down opposing defenses. It hasn’t been fancy, but it has been effective at keeping the chains moving, and keeping its own suspect D off the field. During the last two games, both wins, UCLA has motored for 514 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. What’s been most vexing for opposing defenses is the versatility of the ground game. It’s no longer as simple as slowing down RB Jonathan Franklin now that QB Kevin Prince is healthy, and backup RB Derrick Coleman has run for 11 touchdowns. If the Bruins can control the clock, it’ll put even more pressure on a Utah team that ranks last in the Pac-12 on offense.
Why Utah Might Win: If UCLA can’t run the ball effectively, it won’t win. The Bruins staff ought to be very concerned about this week’s opponent, a stout Utah team that ranks 10th nationally in run defense. The Utes sport a rugged D that’s going to get the better of the UCLA O-line, making first contact at or behind the line of scrimmage. There’s blue-collar toughness at every level, from Derrick Shelby and Star Lotulelei up front to Trevor Reilly, Chaz Walker and Matt Martinez at linebacker. Once Utah stacks the line to slow down the running game, the Bruins won’t have the complimentary passing game to keep the defenders guessing.
What To Watch Out For: While Utah QB Jon Hays has somewhat raised the level of his game lately, this remains an offense that wants to establish a presence on the ground. Like this week’s visitor, the Utes will use the running game to set up the pass. Former junior college transfer John White has been the savior of the offense this fall, rushing for 1,024 yards and 10 touchdowns on 205 carries. The next busiest ballcarrier has been Hays, who has run it 41 times, testament to White’s workhorse quality. Unlike Utah, UCLA hasn’t been nearly as stingy in run defense, which gives a significant edge to the home team in a crucial category of this matchup.
What Will Happen: While the Bruins have certainly regrouped, they remain a middling overall squad that hasn’t played very well outside of Pasadena. That trend will endure this weekend at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Not only is Utah also playing better, but it has a much sounder defense, and can also pick up yards between the tackles with White. The Utes will wisely dare Prince to go to the air, which has not been a calling card throughout his career. UCLA will stall on offense, losing some of the traction it enjoyed after shocking Arizona State in week 10.
CFN Prediction: Utah 26 … UCLA 17
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