For years UCLA and the PAC-12 have been disregarded when talking about the top teams across 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 playoff since 2016.
Could this be the year that finally changes?
With USC as a media darling under Lincoln Riley, the team to match up with the Trojans will need to be a good enough challenge that could potentially make a run if necessary.
Both the UCLA Bruins and the Utah Utes have shown this season that they are more than capable of challenging their Southern California rivals.
We have all you need to know about the matchup here.
#11 Utah Utes vs. $18 UCLA Bruins
Where: Rose Bowl Stadium
When: 3:30 pm – ET
How to Watch: FOX
Spread: Utah -3.5
It’s been a long road for Chip Kelly since he left Oregon for the NFL. The former offensive genius has struggled to update his offensive system since coming to UCLA and has only led his team to one bowl appearance in four seasons.
This year is make or break for Kelly as the Bruins gear for a move to the Big Ten. So far, the team has passed the test with flying colors.
Wins against ranked opponents like Washington have mixed well with blowout wins against some weaker opponents has UCLA in the top 20 for the first time since 2014.
They’ll get their toughest matchup this weekend though.
Utah’s lone loss came to Florida on opening day, and the Utes have since rolled on through the rest of the conference. With a matchup against USC looming a week after, it’s not or never for Utah.
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First to Score: Utah -125
The Utes have scored first in every single game they’ve played this season including Florida. Their ability to start fast is a key reason for the team’s strong start to the season.
UCLA on the other hand has only scored first in three of the five games with the three games being against overmatched schools.
Utah poses a far more difficult problem for UCLA on Saturday and it should be able to start in its usual fast way.
UCLA over 30.5 points
The Bruin’s offense plays and acts like a Chip Kelly offense. There is a lot of pre-snap movement, there is a strong emphasis on the run, and they run tempo to a tee.
In each of their five games this season, Kelly’s offense has scored over 30 points. Zach Charbonnet is a potential NFL running back and has over 400 yards rushing. Dorian Thompson-Robinson has also looked very good as a dual-threat quarterback.
While Utah’s defense is not one to trifle with, giving up less than 30 points in every game this season, I think it’s fairly easy to see how the Bruins score early and often in Saturday’s contest.
UCLA First Half Spread -2.5
As much as the Utes are favored in this game thanks to their top defense and opportune offense, the UCLA Bruins are a first-half offense. Chip Kelly has struggled to make necessary adjustments late in games and has actually lost most second halves.
In last week’s win over Washington, the Bruins gave up 16 unanswered points to the Huskies to make the game close than it appeared. I like UCLA’s chances to start fast in the second quarter alone and build a lead before Utah jumps on them with their defense.