USA Today Sports

UCLA Drops A Crazy One to Utah

Oct. 22 -- UCLA dropped its third straight, losing to Utah at home and setting up a likely losing season...

From AP:

PASADENA, Calif. -- Joe Williams rushed for a school-record 332 yards and four touchdowns in his second game back from retirement, and No. 19 Utah held off pass-happy UCLA 52-45 Saturday.

Cory Butler-Byrd returned the opening kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown on a day of stunning superlatives for the Utes (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) in their second straight win at the Rose Bowl.

Williams, who quit football last month before returning last week, broke off TD runs of 3, 43, 64 and 55 yards in the most prolific rushing performance ever by a UCLA opponent.

Mike Fafaul also set UCLA records for pass attempts (70) and completions (40) while throwing for 464 yards, third most in school history. The former walk-on had five touchdown passes and four interceptions for the Bruins (3-5, 1-4), whose wholesale overhaul of their offensive approach didn't prevent their fourth loss in five games.

Williams ended his retirement after injuries decimated Utah's backfield depth. The senior has 511 yards rushing in two games since, including the biggest ground game in school history against UCLA's previously above-average defense.

Williams broke Mike Anderson's Utah single-game record shortly before shredding Edgerrin James' record for a Bruins opponent on his fourth scoring run with 10:28 to play.

UCLA's Austin Roberts caught a TD pass with 4:38 left to trim Utah's lead to seven points. The Bruins got the ball back with 40 seconds left, but couldn't move.

Fafaul was prolific but erratic in his second straight start in place of injured Josh Rosen, who went through warmups but didn't play. Fafaul had the third-biggest passing performance in UCLA history, trailing only 500-yard games by Cade McNown and Drew Olson.

Bolu Olorunfunmi scored two touchdowns, Nate Iese caught two TD passes and Jordan Lasley caught a 75-yard TD pass for the Bruins.

FREAKY FIRST QUARTER

After the opening kickoff was delayed when the Rose Bowl forgot to put pylons on the end zones, Utah led 14-0 less than 3 1/2 minutes in on Joe Williams' first TD rush. The Bruins erased that deficit in 5 1/2 minutes, taking a 21-14 lead on Olorunfunmi's TD run.

THE TAKEAWAY

Utah: Williams ran wild on a record afternoon, but the ground game behind a dominant offensive line only lessens the sting for a Utah defense that got beaten for several big plays with poor tackling. Coach Kyle Whittingham won't be happy about the Utes' inability to limit a backup quarterback and an offense with no running game.

UCLA: The Bruins' strange season just got even weirder. After struggling to run the ball all season for offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu, the Bruins apparently decided to fix the problem by reverting back to the spread passing offense run by departed coordinator Noel Mazzone. UCLA ran the ball just seven times for 12 yards in the first half, but Fafaul threw 37 passes. The Bruins didn't call another running play until the final snap of the third quarter.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Utah: Injuries and defensive woes can't slow down the Utes, who appear to be Colorado's biggest competition for the Pac-12 South title. The Utes should slide up a bit in the polls with a difficult late-season schedule looming.

UP NEXT

Utah: The Utes return home to host dominant Washington in one of the season's biggest matchups in the topsy-turvy Pac-12.

UCLA: After a bye, the Bruins continue chasing bowl eligibility with a Thursday night trip to suddenly powerful Colorado.


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