Game Week: Utah Facts and Factors

Nov. 18 -- Utah's loss last week was devastating for the Utes, but they've always played UCLA tough, even when they weren't very good...

• UCLA travels to Salt Lake City, Utah, to take on the Utah Utes.  The game kicks off at 12:30 PST, and will be televised by Fox.

• The Bruins (7-3, 4-3) fell out of the rankings after their loss to Washington State last week.

• Utah (8-2, 5-2) fell to #18, after its double-overtime loss to Arizona in Tucson.

• UCLA has only played Utah 13 times in its history, and leads the series, 10-3.   The two schools have split the series since Utah joined the Pac-12, with the last three contests being decided by a total of 16 points.

• UCLA hasn’t generally played Utah well since they joined the conference. Last season, UCLA suffered one of its most devastating losses in the last several years when it lost to Utah at the Rose Bowl, 30-28, a defeat that kept UCLA out of the Pac-12 Championship Game.  In 2013, UCLA won in Salt Lake City, but it took a big effort from Brett Hundley to defeat the Utes, who ended up going 5-7 (2-7 in the Pac-12) that year.   In 2012, Utah also wasn’t very good, going 5-7 (3-6) on the season, and UCLA just got by them, 21-14.  In 2011, in Utah’s first year in the Pac-12, it dominated UCLA In Salt Lake, 31-6. 

• UCLA’s Jim Mora is 2-1 against the Utes.   

• The win for Utah last year in the Rose Bowl was Utah’s first ever win against UCLA in Los Angeles.  The Utes are 2-4 against UCLA in Salt Lake City.  UCLA won the first eight games of the series before Utah beat the 11th-ranked Bruins in 2007, 44-6. 

• In last year’s game, the Utes sacked Brett Hundley ten times. 

• While Utah is ahead of UCLA in the Pac-12 South standings, UCLA controls its own destiny in winning the Pac-12 South while Utah doesn’t.   If UCLA beats Utah and USC, it wins the South.  Even if Utah beats UCLA and Colorado in its last two conference games, it’s currently tied with USC at 5-2 and, having lost to the Trojans, would need USC to lose to UCLA or Oregon for it to win the South. 

• Utah lost quite a bit with its loss to Arizona last week.  It lost control of its own destiny to win the Pac-12 South. It lost the lead in the Pac-12 South (now currently tied with USC). And it lost just about any chance of a berth in the College Football Playoff.

• Utah has not won a Pac-12 South title since joining the Pac-12.

• Utah has played in only two January bowl games since 1939.

• Utah’s two remaining games (UCLA, Colorado) are at home.  The Utes are 5-0 at home this season, having beaten Michigan, Utah State, Cal, Arizona State and Oregon State.

• Utah is led by Kyle Whittingham (55), who is in his 11th year as Utah’s head coach.  He has the second-most wins in school history (93-45).  He has spent 22 seasons on the Utah staff, working his way up from defensive line coach, to defensive coordinator, to head coach in 2005 when he replaced the departed Urban Meyer.  Whittingham is considered an excellent defensive coach, with the rep of getting the most out of his talent on the defensive side of the ball.  The word in recent years is that there has been a little tension in the football offices, however, with Whittingham frustrated with Utah’s inability to pay assistant coaches high-end salaries. It has resulted in Whittingham having quite a bit of turnover on his staff.  It’s one reason that many believe Whittingham might very well entertain the notion of the USC head coaching job, with Whittingham considered a serious option for USC.  There is some speculation, though, that Whittingham, a member of the LDS and with a choir-boy rep, might not feel he fits in at USC.  Saturday, the day of the game, is Whittingham’s 56th birthday.

• Utah has sold out 35 consecutive games in Rice-Eccles Stadium, dating back to the 2010 season opener.  Of the sellouts, 33 were standing-room only crowds, including all five home games this season.  Rice-Eccles holds 45,017 and utilizes field turf.

• UCLA is a better road team under Jim Mora than home team.  It has won 13 of its last 14 contests played away from the Rose Bowl, and eight of its last nine conference road games.   It’s 16-5 in true road games under Mora. 

• UCLA, under Mora, is 12-7 against ranked opponents, and has won six of the last seven.

• Mora’s 36 wins over the last four seasons is approaching the four-year school best of 37 won by Terry Donahue in 1985-88.

• UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has thrown 188 straight passes without an interception.  His last was in the third quarter of the Stanford game.  The school record is 199, set by Drew Olson in 2005.

• UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn became the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer last week against Washington State. He is the first player in Pac-12 history to record over 400 points for a career (currently at 402).   He, of course, set the UCLA record for the school’s longest field goal when he kicked a 60-yarder against Cal.

• Utah is favored by 2 points. 

• The weather forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 49 degrees and partly cloudy skies, with no chance of rain.  

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