On a day when three of the top six ranked teams in the country lost, UCLA failed to make up any ground. The Bruins had a perfect chance to sneak into the top five of the national rankings for the first time since 2001, but lost to Utah on Saturday in the Rose Bowl, 30-28, for their first loss of the season.
It was a game of oddities. Consider this Bruin touchdown drive in the third quarter: Quarterback Brett Hundley threw a deep pass to linebacker Myles Jack, who was in at running back and running a wheel route. Jack almost caught the ball, but it bounced out of his chest and into the hands of a Utah defender. But the play was called back because of a roughing the passer penalty. Hundley then completed a deep pass to Devin Lucien, who missed a touchdown by less than half a yard. The Bruin who eventually carried the ball in for the score was Eddie Vanderdoes, the defensive lineman.
Paul Perkins ran for 87 yards in the first half, then didn’t play in the third quarter before returning in the fourth.
Like I said — oddities.
It wasn’t just UCLA that had a quirky game. Utah benched its starting quarterback, Taylor Wilson, in the first quarter. His replacement, Kendal Thompson, looked like he should have been starting all along. He finished the game 10 for 13, with 95 yards through the air and one touchdown.
The Utes MVP might have been their punter, Tom Hackett. Kicking the ball rugby-style, he consistently pinned the Bruins deep in their own zone with sharp, deep kicks. He finished the game with eight punts, averaging 49.3 yards per kick.
Utah scored its first touchdown of the game when Hundley attempted a screen pass deep in his own zone. The pass didn’t appear to be aimed at any player, though, and was intercepted and returned to the end zone. Hundley had a fine game, though, completing 16 of 21 passes for 269 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
The two teams traded scores for three quarters, with Utah taking a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Pinned deep in its own zone, UCLA got to within three points after Hundley lofted a pass down the sideline to Devin Fuller, who raced 93 yards for the touchdown. It was the longest touchdown of Hundley’s career, and it came at the perfect time.
On their next offensive series, Hundley took three straight sacks, the last being less than a yard from his own goal line. Utah got the ball back and kicked another field goal, giving it a six-point lead with six minutes left in the game.
But the Bruins responded with a touchdown pass to Eldridge Massington, and took their first lead of the game with less than five minutes left in the game.
It wouldn’t last. Utah drained all but 34 seconds off the clock before kicking a 30-yard field goal for a two point lead. The Bruins got two chances at a game-winning field goal on the final play, thanks to a running-into-the-kicker call, but still came up short.
UCLA starts at its own 32. Hundley connects with Jordan Payton twice for 17 yards. Hundley scrambles up the middle to the Utah 43. Another completion to Payton leaves kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn to attempt a 55-yard field goal. Kick is blocked, but there’s a flag for running into the kicker. After a five-yard penalty, Fairbairn just misses his second attempt to end the game.
Utah 30, UCLA 28 (34 seconds left in the fourth quarter)
Utah runs the ball straight at UCLA, and it’s a successful strategy. The Utes go 43 yards on their first six plays of the drive, then Devontae Booker goes 15 yards to the Bruins 17 on third down.
The Utes continue to run the ball -- and run down the clock. On fourth and five from the UCLA 13, they let the time dwindle to :37 before calling a timeout. Andy Phillips nails a 30-yard field goal with 34 seconds remaining.
UCLA 28, Utah 27 (4:50 left in the fourth quarter)
The Bruins ran the same play twice in a row. It was a corner fade to Eldridge Massington. The first was overthrown, the second was a 40-yard touchdown pass. Just like that, UCLA takes the lead for the first time in the game.
Utah 27, UCLA 21 (6:21 left in the fourth quarter)
The Bruins defense appears to be concious, which is more than you can say for UCLA’s offensive line. They forced Utah into a three and out, but then the Utes nailed a 45-yard field goal for the six-point lead.
Sack No. 8, then sack No 9, then sack No. 10. Yes, you read that right. Brett Hundley took three straight sacks, and the last about a foot from being a safety. That was awful in every sense of the word.
And that was the big stop that the Bruins needed. Utah quarterback Kendal Thompson threw a ball into traffic on third-and-nine, and despite there being three Utes in the vicinity of the ball, none could come up with it. With 10 minutes left in the game and down three points, UCLA gets the ball back.
Utah 24, UCLA 21 (12:22 left in the fourth quarter)
That’ll change a game. Brett Hundley lofted a nice pass down the left sideline to Devin Fuller, who raced 93 yards down the field for a touchdown. That’s a career-long for Hundley. This team lives on homerun hitting plays.
Let’s see if the Bruin defense can hold again
Utah blew a big first down when Kaelin Clay dropped an open pass in the flat, giving UCLA the ball back. But again, Utah punter Tom Hackett continued to have a big game. His 45-yard punt pinned the Bruins on their own six-yard line, down 10 point with 13 minutes left in the game.
Brett Hundley took his seventh sack of the game, and UCLA was forced to punt again. Utah has a chance to make this a pretty significant lead.
Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone chose to run the ball to end the third quarter, which drew some boos from the Bruin faithful. The announced crowd was 74,329, a few thousand more than the team’s other home game earlier this season against Memphis.
Utah 24, UCLA 14 (0:22 left in the third quarter)
Utah almost had to punt again, but Fabian Moreau gave up another big play, this time a pass interference call on third down. After being given a fresh set of downs, the Utes continued to pick up three yards here, four yards there, all the way down the field.
UCLA had Devontae Booker behind the line of scrimmage, but the running back broke roughly 35 tackles and bullied his way into the end zone. If the Bruins are trying to play catch-up here, they’re going to have to tackle. Simple as that.
Utah 17, UCLA 14 (5:45 left in the third quarter)
After rushing for 87 yards in the first half, Paul Perkins hasn’t been back on the field in the second half. Unclear why, but you’d have to assume it’s an injury. He’s been UCLA’s best offensive player tonight, although Jordon James had some fine runs on the Bruins’ last drive.
The Bruins got fortunate late in this drive, when Brett Hundley threw up a pass to linebacker/running back Myles Jack in the end zone that was intercepted. Jack caught the ball, but it bounced off his chest and into a Utah defender’s hands. The interception was nullified, though, with a roughing the passer call.
After the penalty, the Bruins almost scored on a nice pass from Hundley to Devin Lucien, but a review showed Lucien to miss the goal line by about half a yard.
And then, because this game is weird, defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes ended up scoring the Bruin touchdown.
Utah with a quick offensive series, resulting in its sixth punt of the game. UCLA will get the ball back down 10 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Ishmael Adams almost started this half off with a bang, but his 72-yard kickoff return was called back because of a holding penalty. The ball was spotted at UCLA’s own 9-yard line instead of deep into Utah territory, but the Bruins still managed to put together a solid drive.
That is until Brett Hundley took his sixth sack of the game. Some of this is on the offensive line, but a lot of it is on Hundley. He doesn’t look very aware in the pocket, and hasn’t been mobile at all.
This has been a very odd half of football. Utah didn’t get a first down until late in the first quarter, but after backup quarterback Kendal Thompson entered the game, the offense has looked entirely different.
For UCLA, Brett Hundley has looked rather pedestrian. He threw a horrible interception to give Utah the first touchdown of the game and has been sacked five times. To be fair, he’s also completed eight of his 11 passes. The Bruins’ workhorse continues to be Paul Perkins, who has rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown already tonight.
The Bruins will get the ball to start the second half. Let’s keep getting weird.
Utah 17, UCLA 7 (halftime)
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the Utah quarterback situation, but why wasn’t Kendal Thompson starting over Travis Wilson all along? The Utah offense looks completely different with him in the game. Thompson isn’t the most accurate quarterback on mid-level throws, but can scramble and is picking up good yardage. Since entering the game, he’s completed all seven of his passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, and has also run for 31 yards.
On this drive, Thompson and the Utah offense got the ball with four minutes left in the first half, and got down to the UCLA 31-yard line. The Utes nailed the 48-yard field goal, and go into the locker room with a two-score lead.
UCLA was picking up some serious yards, but then Brett Hundley fumbled the snap and lost four yards. On the next play, he was sacked for the fourth time in the game. Amazingly, he was sacked again on third down, even though an offensive holding penalty was called. Utah’s defensive line is dominating this half of football -- they lead the country in sacks per game, and already have more than their average.
The Utes will now get the ball back with four minutes left in the half.
Not sure what took so long for both these teams to get going, but we’re finally starting to see some offense here. UCLA scored on its last drive, and while Utah was forced to punt, they actually picked up some yardage.
Still, the MVP continues to be Utah punter Tom Hackett. He just rugby punted a ball into the left corner of the field while running to his right. It’s hard to get anything going offensively when you’re consistently pinned back deep in your own zone. Hackett is dominating the special teams game right now.
I’m not watching the USC game (clearly) but man, what a brutal way to lose. Do Pac-12 teams not get the concept of a Hail Mary?
Utah 14, UCLA 7 (10:28 left in the second quarter)
The Bruins moved the ball for the first time all game, really, behind the strong play of Paul Perkins. He gashed the Utah defense all the way down the field, then finished off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
If Hundley can’t get going, this is how the Bruins are going to have to score. Perkins has already rushed for 78 yards on the night.
That was a 82-yard drive that took three minutes to complete. Hello, tempo.
Also, you hate to keep picking on the kid, but Fabian Moreau gave up a touchdown again. He got Moss’d by Dres Anderson in the end zone, and seemed to almost give up on the play. Moreau was UCLA’s best defensive back in training camp, but has looked dreadful in the first month of the season.
Utah 14, UCLA 0 (13:45 left in the second quarter)
Well, the quarterback switch seems to be working. Utah scores the first offensive touchdown of the game on a great throw by Kendal Thompson. The 42-yard touchdown pass gives Utah the 14-0 lead. That was the first Utah drive tonight that wasn’t a three and out.
The Ute who caught the ball is Dres Anderson, son of former UCLA wide receiever Flipper. Hey, it’s almost like we should write a story on the kid or something.
For the second drive in a row, Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has remained on the bench. Kendal Thompson is in the game, and rushed for Utah’s first first down of the night. The Utes picked up their second first down of the night right before the first quarter ended, and will have the ball near midfield when we pick it back up here.
These two teams have combined for 96 offensive yards, 0 offensive touchdowns, and seven punts in the first quarter. Yipee.
Hundley hasn’t looked great tonight, but threw a beautiful 28-yard completion to Jordan Payton down the sideline for the longest offensive play of the night, by far.
The UCLA drive stalled after that pass, though, as Hundley took his third sack of the night.
So far, this game is a punter’s duel, which is about as exciting as it sounds.
UCLA’s defense looks very good, and Utah’s offense looks very bad. The Utes started around midfield, but picked up just five yards in three plays. Utah punter Tom Hackett has now punted for the fourth time in this game, and there’s still four minutes left in the first quarter.
Wow, what a play call from Utah. The Utes went for a surprise onside kick, and the kicker actually recovered the ball. The ball was very close to not going 10 yards, but a review confirmed the call on the field. Utah gets the ball around midfield with its best field position of the night.
Utah 7, UCLA 0 (5:51 left in the first quarter)
Utah’s defensive line is as big and athletic as advertised. The Utes picked up their second sack of the game, and then forced Hundley into throwing a horrible interception that was returned for a 27-yard touchdown. That throw appeared to be headed to Paul Perkins on a screen pass, but it was nowhere close to the running back. A miserable decision and throw gives Utah the first touchdown of the game.
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson is a tough guy. On the first play of this drive, he was hit near his own goal line. Instead of going down, he lowered his shoulder and got back to the line of scrimmage. He’s a huge quarterback at 6-foot-7, and is very hard to take down.
It didn’t matter much, as the Bruin defense held strong. Utah has yet to pick up a first down, and was forced to punt the ball for a third time.
On third-and-short, Eldridge Massington came up with a great catch down the sideline to keep UCLA’s drive alive. The next play, Paul Perkins gained 10 yards on a run, then picked up another 15 yards on a Utah facemask penalty. The Bruins couldn’t pick up another first down, though, and we’re going to see another punt.
In a weird twist, defensive back Ishmael Adams got a carry, picking up two yards. He’s probably UCLA’s fastest player and has above-average vision for a defensive back, but that was the first offensive play of his career.
Another three and out for Utah. The Utes gained three yards on their second drive of the game, and are punting again. Through four minutes of play, the MVP of this game is Utah punter Tom Hackett. He’s a rugby-stlye punter, and has averaged 53 yards per punt on his first two attempts of the night.
UCLA currently has negative 11 offensive yards on the night. Let’s see if they can get something going.
And just like that, UCLA goes down with a three and out of its own. Quarterback Brett Hundley was sacked on third down, and didn’t seem to even see the defender bearing down on him.
Less than three minutes have gone by in this game, and we’ve already seen two punts. Giddy up!
UCLA forced a three and out on Utah’s first drive of the game, and even blitzed on third down. I can count on two hands the amount of times the Bruins have blitzed six men at once, so that was definitely a change of pace. Utah then punted the ball 54 yards, so UCLA gets the ball near their own 20 yard line.
Less than five minutes until kickoff and the stadium is around 80% full. The student section seems to have a good turnout, too.
The temperature is 87 at kickoff, so not as hot as we originally thought. Utah is going to get the ball to start the game, and here we go.
Starting guard Alex Redmond is not dressed for warmups, and doesn’t appear to be playing. Redmond injured his ankle last week against Arizona State, and didn’t practice much during the week. Redshirt freshman Kenny Lacy took his place in the starting lineup during warmups, though Coach Jim Mora wouldn’t commit to Lacy starting after practice on Thursday.
The top half of the Pac-12 has had better weekends. Oregon lost to Arizona on Thursday, Stanford lost to Notre Dame, Oregon State squeaked by Colorado, USC and Arizona State are currently neck and neck in the third quarter, and Washington State hosts Cal tonight.
No surprises with Brett Hundley. He’s wearing the same elbow brace that debuted against Arizona State last weekend.
It’s another hot one for UCLA today. The Bruins dealt with mugginess in Virginia, close to 100-degree temperatures at home against Memphis and dry, scorching heat in the desert against Arizona State. UCLA’s only reasonable game, temperature wise, was its indoor game at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
So while temperatures are going to be close to 100 degrees at kickoff tonight, don’t expect it to be too much of a factor. It’s not like this team will have much of an adjustment to make.
Outside the gates, UCLA has hydration tents set up, and Honda has employees handing out things like water and sunscreen. Sports Illustrated also has their College Football Tailgate Tour set up here, with former Bruins running back Kahlil Bell and “Iron Chef” Neal Fraser in attendance. There are hopefully enough places for people to go to cool down.
The Bruins drew almost 71,000 people in their first home game of the season, but that was against Memphis and before school started. With students back in Westwood and a solid Pac-12 opponent in tow, expect a much larger crowd tonight.
This was a big game for the Bruins even before Oregon and Stanford lost, but now, this is a massively important game. A UCLA win tonight over Utah makes them the new favorite to win the Pac-12 and sets up a huge game next week against the Ducks.
Overall, it’s been a wild day in college football. Three of the top six teams in the country have lost: Ole Miss dropped No. 3 Alabama, TCU upended No. 4 Oklahoma and Mississippi State walloped No. 6 Texas A&M.
If UCLA wins tonight, there is a solid chance the Bruins will find themselves ranked in the top 5 next week for the first time since 2001.