If the Bruins (5-3 overall, 3-2 Pac-12) beat Utah (4-3, 3-1)on Saturday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium (7 p.m. PDT, ESPN), his team might be able to do considerably better. Las Vegas? Alamo? Rose? Everything would remain on the table with a victory that clinched bowl eligibility for the first time under the fourth-year coach while sustaining the Bruins’ hopes of winning the Pac-12 South.
The Bruins are 6½-point underdogs and their fortunes could hinge heavily on who takes the first snap, with senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson trying to overcome an apparent hand injury. Times staff writer Ben Bolch looks at the game’s matchups and storylines:
While much of the focus will be on whether UCLA’s Ethan Garbers makes his first career start as a replacement for Thompson-Robinson, there will be another emerging story involving a quarterback.
Cam Rising, the Utah sophomore who starred at Newbury Park High, has sparked a turnaround for the Utes after replacing Charlie Brewer last month. Utah has gone 3-1 with Rising as the starter.
Ignore his funky throwing motion. Rising is accurate, completing 64.3% of his passes for 1,139 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also dangerous as a runner, averaging 7.4 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns.
Ethan Garbers didn’t break when taking over for injured starting quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson late in UCLA’s loss against Oregon on Saturday.
Rising will try to extend Utah’s winning streak over UCLA to five games; the Bruins haven’t beaten the Utes since a 17-9 triumph in 2015 in Salt Lake City. They are, however, 3-0 in road games this season.
Bo Calvert would take on one little brother at a time, alternating between Ethan and Josh. Then the younger siblings would go against each other.
The goal was to reach the couch in the family’s home. One brother would pose as the ball carrier and the other as a defender standing in his way. The only thing guaranteed to lose was the couch.
“We had a broken sofa that we just kept ‘cause my mom knew we were just gonna break another one,” Bo said, “so that was just kinda our couch.”
The brothers will be reunited Saturday. Bo is UCLA’s starting outside linebacker and Ethan and Josh are reserve linebackers for Utah. Ethan, a freshman, has appeared in one game and Josh, a redshirt freshman, could make his season debut against the Bruins; he’s listed as the backup to Devin Lloyd, who must sit out the first half after being called for targeting last week.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly won’t disclose whether injured Dorian Thompson-Robinson or backup Ethan Garbers will start during a key Pac-12 matchup at Utah.
Bo, a redshirt junior, said family from California and Nevada in addition to Utah is expected to attend the game. The brothers’ father, David, could be especially torn while watching the game considering he played briefly for the Utes.
“I love both of those programs,” David said, “and I’m just thankful that my kids aren’t on the field at the same time hitting each other.”
Said Bo: “Hopefully I’ll be able to get a good picture with them after the game, and hopefully I’ll be smiling a little bigger than they are if we pull out that win.”
Hello, old friend
There could be some catching up after the game that doesn’t involve relatives.
Utah receiver Theo Howard played for UCLA from 2016-19 before transferring to Oklahoma last year and then moving to Salt Lake City to complete his college career.
He’s caught nine passes this season for 134 yards and a touchdown.
UCLA is facing in what reality is a “must-win” game against Utah to stay in the Pac-12 title race, but how does the game stack up for bettors?
He’ll sit out too
UCLA will be without cornerback Cam Johnson in the first half after he was called for targeting in the second half against Oregon last weekend.