No. 7 Utah
Saturday, 5 p.m.
The Bruins will be back on the road this weekend for the first time since Oct. 17.
UCLA football (4-5, 4-2 Pac-12) will travel to Salt Lake City to take on No. 7 Utah (8-1, 5-1) on Saturday. The Bruins have run a 2-2 away record this season – one game better than their 2-3 record at home – and the road win over then-No. 19 Washington State was UCLA’s biggest upset of the season.
Saturday’s matchup with the Utes will be a chance for the Bruins earn their first win over a top-10 team this year.
“(Utah has) a pretty good running back, a good quarterback, and they have a good wideout, so we really got to come to play,” said redshirt freshman defensive back Elisha Guidry. “We got to tackle this week, and we got to run to the ball.”
Running back Zack Moss leads the Utes with 137 carries for 828 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. His 3,479 career rushing yards and 34 rushing touchdowns are both program records.
Last year, Moss ran for 211 yards against UCLA – something that coach Chip Kelly said will be hard to stop this time around.
“I mean, everybody’s tried (to stop Moss). … He’s done it not only to UCLA, but to everybody else, too,” Kelly said. “(Moss is) tough to get down – you have to get at him early, and you have to gang-tackle him because he’s such a strong runner. He’s got a unique combination of power and speed.”
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley ranks second in the country with a 73.8% completion percentage and has thrown just one interception on the year. He averages 10.80 yards per attempt – good for fourth in the nation – and has also rushed for 235 yards and four touchdowns.
Kelly said one of the Bruins’ focuses this week will be on tackling the two-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.
“(Huntley is) maybe the most efficient quarterback in the country if you look at the statistical part of it,” Kelly said. “He can keep plays alive with his legs, so he’s not just a drop-back passer. … I know he’s been banged up a little bit, but he still has found a way, and the one thing you admire from him is just how tough he is.”
On the other side of the ball, Utah is tied for third-best in the nation with four defensive touchdowns.
For Guidry, one member of the Ute defense will be especially familiar.
Utah defensive back Javelin Guidry – Elisha Guidry’s older brother – has played all nine games this season, including eight as a starter.
“We always shared the same room, always on the same team, always doing stuff together, and so it’s really awesome to see my brother out there doing big things there and me doing big things here,” Elisha Guidry said. “It’s a great thing for our legacy, really – for our kids, our sister’s kids when she has them, our cousins getting to see us do big things, so they’re gonna want to do great things too.”
The Ute defense has allowed just 190.3 passing yards per game, and is up against a Bruin offense that has averaged 235.7 yards through the air.
Graduate transfer linebacker Jason Harris said he and his teammates have had a mentality change starting with their win over Stanford – which was the turning point in UCLA’s season following a 1-5 start.
“We’re having a lot of fun out there right now,” Harris said. “It’s something (Kelly) and the staff started harping around Stanford: Have fun. After all, it’s just a game.”
Saturday’s matchup will be a chance for the Bruins to keep their three-game winning streak alive prior to facing crosstown-rival USC. Kickoff will be at 5 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium.