UCLA is happy to play Utah at the Rose Bowl today, since in the Bruins' last two visits to Salt Lake City they were outscored, 75-12. This is redemption week for both teams, which are looking to bounce back from losses. Times staff writer Chris Foster examines the story lines and matchups:
Everyone seems to have stars in their eyes talking about Utah nose tackle Star Lotulelei. "You turn on the game tape, you want to turn it off after 10 minutes," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said.
Adrian Klemm, UCLA's line coach, doesn't seem overly concerned.
"He's a special player and dynamic player, but I think the strength of our offensive line is our interior," Klemm said. "I think it's a good matchup. I'm excited to see how our guys respond to it."
Lotulelei disrupted USC's offense at the start of last week's game. But the Trojans handled him better as the game progressed and won, 38-28.
Klemm said center Jake Brendel, a redshirt freshman, "may be our most solid lineman this season."
If he needs help, guards Xavier Su'a-Filo and Jeff Baca are available for double teams.
"You can't change everything just because you're going against one guy," Klemm said. "We have a young line. If we do that they could starting wondering, 'Do they have faith in us?' "
On the line
It's on the edge where the Bruins might have concerns. Tackle Torian White is a redshirt freshman who left last week's game against California because of sore knees. Simon Goines is a first-year freshman on the other side.
And the Utah defensive front has more than just Lotulelei. "It's a formidable front," Klemm said.
California was less formidable, yet sacked Brett Hundley five times in the Bears' 43-17 victory.
"Things came easy for our line early in the season," Klemm said. "They have to show people they are the solid group they were in those first few games."
The Pac-12 Conference's leading rusher from 2011 meets the conference's top rusher in 2012.
Utah's John White ran for a school-record 1,519 yards a year ago, but he has been slowed by an ankle injury this season. He looked better against USC, with 68 yards. In a 31-6 victory over UCLA last season, White ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a 13-yard scoring pass.
UCLA's Johnathan Franklin has 799 yards rushing this season, but is nicked up with a sore hand and calf. Still, he gained 103 yards against Cal and is seventh nationally, averaging 133.3 yards per game.
UCLA's Hundley threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns last week, and everyone was asking what's wrong. That's how much is expected from the redshirt freshman.
Well, he did have four passes intercepted.
After causing problems early, Utah gave up 303 yards passing against USC. Matt Barkley threw three touchdown passes.
UCLA's pass defense was lacking against Cal, and the Bruins have given up some deep balls of late. They have prepared for two quarterbacks this week, senior John Hays and first-year freshman Travis Wilson, a San Clemente High product.
By the numbers
The October surprise around Westwood is when UCLA wins in October. The Bruins are 7-18 during the month since the 2005 season.
Utah has lost 10 consecutive games in the Los Angeles area. The Utes' only victory in L.A. was over USC in 1916.
For in-game updates and analysis, visit the Sports Now blog at latimes.com/ucla
BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX
Bruins 4-2, 1-2 Pac-12
Utes 2-3, 0-2 Pac-12
*--* PER GAME UCLA UTAH Points scored 33.5 24.0 Points allowed 24.0 24.6 Passing offense 304.7 194.4 Rushing offense 224.2 105.0 Passing defense 252.0 235.2 Rushing defense 159.5 114.8 *--*