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UCLA picked up a win over Utah on Saturday, proving they could beat the Utes.
Going into the weekend, I said that a UCLA Bruins win over Utah Utes wasn't going to prove much. Coming out of the weekend, UCLA beat Utah and it didn't prove much. The Bruins got a win over a team they were supposed to beat, and that's a tough result to complain about. If they're lucky, it'll give them some momentum heading into the second half of their schedule. ASU is next, and as always, the 1-2 punch of USC and Stanford loom at the end of November.
After a week where six turnovers doomed any effort they tried to make against Cal, the Bruins forced a Utes turnover on Utah's opening offensive drive when Andrew Abbott picked up an interception on a pass tipped by Eric Kendricks. The Bruins offense immediately kicked into gear, moving down the field with a rush heavy drive that saw Brett Hundley move it in with another gorgeous red zone fake. With a rushing attack that includes Johnathan Franklin having a good shot at UCLA's career and single-season rushing records, faking handoffs at the goal line is likely to keep paying off for the Bruins.
That was just the start of an efficient if unspectacular day for the offense. Hundley was 15-for-21 for 183 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, and Franklin had 79 yards on 22 carries. Combined, the team picked up 171 yards on the ground. Junior wide receiver Shaqulle Evans, already having a career year, had four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Special teams, a weak point in the loss to Cal, was again an issue. Steven Manfro, who has made a habit of questionable punt fielding this season, muffed his second punt in as many weeks. This time he was more efficient about it, and Utah fell on it for a touchdown instead of the gimmie drive that Cal had to deal with. Jeff Locke, stalwart punter and generally the most consistent member of the squad, was back to form after a hiccup against Cal. He pinned the Utes inside their own 20 on three of six punts, and just outside the 20 on another two. Utah didn't have a single punt return on the day.
The Utes started freshman quarterback Travis Wilson for the first time, and the UCLA defense did their best to keep him from setting in. Abbot had the interception, Datone Jones and Cassius Marsh contributed sacks, and all together they held Wilson to 3-for-7 on third down passes, part of a 6-for-13 overall for the Utes.
UCLA has a bye in Week 8, and after that it's a trip to Arizona to face the Sun Devils. ASU is 3-0 in Pac-12 play, averaging 40.5 points per game scored with only 14.2 per game allowed. A solid-but-unspectacular should give the Bruins some momentum heading into the bye, but they'll need to come out with every bit of speed they can muster.