We continue our look at the 2012 UCLA football schedule by checking out our week seven match-up, the Utah Utes. Check out our previews on other teams we’ll play prior to this: Rice, Nebraska, Houston, Oregon State, Colorado and California.
Utah is good. Damn good, even. Top of the Pac-12 South-good. And, biases aside, have a legit shot to win the damn conference in just their second year. Biases intermingled, we think they’ll pull it out.
Last season, Utah gave us a good taste of what getting whipped by them year in and out could taste like, if we sucked. We were trampled 31-6 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in the snow and, in essence, beat ourselves with early penalties.
Utah’s going to be a force and they’ll keep up with anyone and everyone in the Pac-12. Oregon, South Cal, Stanford, you name it. UCLA will be one of the teams that Utes fans will expect to beat and may fear that the team will overlook.
Of course, FanSided.com’s resident Utah Utes blog, Hoyo’s Revenge, happens to be curated by a hilarious dude who knows the heartbeat of his fan-base. We asked some questions. He gave answers.
Go Joe Bruin: Hi there. Would you like to answer some questions we have in regards to our preview of the UCLA-Utah game?
Hoyo’s Revenge: You can just publish my prediction for the game:
Go Joe Bruin: Utah had a rough patch in 2011, and a lot of that has to do with injuries. If the Utes are healthy, what’re the odds that they spank UCLA at the Rose Bowl?
Hoyo’s Revenge: I believe Utah wins this game no matter what. However, how it goes will depend upon what happens with the Trojans the week before. If USC whacks us, I suspect that we will come to UCLA force you to put on a pretty dress and make you our date to the Autumn Ball. But if we win, we’ll almost certainly come back to earth against UCLA, not enough to lose, but just enough to give you hope before its crushed like a bug. (Ed. Note: How did he know I used to put on dresses and go to the Autumn Ball when I was a kid?)
Go Joe Bruin: Jordan Wynn’s a promising QB … when healthy. What do you think he’ll be like if he doesn’t trip and break every bone that comes into contact with the ground? Is the fan-base already calling for that dude to hit the bench?
Hoyo’s Revenge: I’ve always been a Jordan Wynn fan. Hopefully between the year off to heal, some added muscle and maturity, we’ll get a healthy season. But Utah fans have a hate relationship with their QB’s, in that we hate them right up until the minute it’s just impossible. Take Brian Johnson, Ute fans wanted him moved to receiver right until we won the Sugar Bowl. If you’re puzzled by this and want to know why, I don’t have an answer.
An interesting side story to this is that Brian Johnson is now our offensive coordinator. And if its anything a Ute fans hates more than a QB it’s an offensive coordinator. But Brian is now a Ute hero, so that dynamic may cause seizures among Ute fans.
Go Joe Bruin: Utes’ RB John White’s a stud, but you and I have gotten into a discussion over whether our RB Johnathan Franklin is or is not a better runner than White. All things considered, who has more rushing yards and touchdowns here? Note that UCLA’s biggest strength, per Jimmy Mora, is our defensive line, and the same can be said — if you argue it correctly — for the Utez.
Hoyo’s Revenge: I’m going to answer White here for a couple of reasons. It’s hard to underestimate just how much that guy did for us. When we entered the Pac-12 we were flatfooted in a couple of places, specifically O-Line and QB depth. Its just tough to recruit Pac-12 talent then when you’re not actually a Pac-12 school. Wynn goes down and his back up was Jon Hays. Hays was headed to Nebraska-Omaha until they dropped football. He didn’t have other offers. So with a bad O-Line and a bad QB (and I don’t hate Hays for being bad, it would be like being mad at my 2 year old for not being able to move the Ute offense, he just doesn’t have the skill) White nearly sent us to get crushed by Oregon instead of you.
But I’m sure Franklin has a great personality.
Go Joe Bruin: If UCLA wants to hang 40 here — on a top-25 defense in Utah, mind you — where do they have to go? Can Brett Hundley/Richard Brehaut have more success than Franklin would? Or should we stick with Kevin Prince and pray the bewildered look on his face might scare the defense?
Hoyo’s Revenge: I can’t emotionally live in a world where UCLA hangs 40 on our defense. I would be forced to walk the earth fighting evil with only my fists. But I know that 40 won’t happen with Kevin Prince. Honestly, will you guys get 40 points all season with Prince at the helm? (Ed. Note: No, but he’s got a mean-ass stare.)
Go Joe Bruin: Where do you expect Utah to be, anyway? We know the game against South Cal will be a defining one for you guys, but do you think you can win that game and then become instant national title contenders this year?
Hoyo’s Revenge: If we can beat USC, I think you have to like our shot at the national title game. We don’t have Oregon or Stanford on the schedule. Essentially we’d have a November game at Seattle and the Pac-12 title game standing between us. And if we’re undefeated we likely host the Pac-12 title game. Now all that being said, its tough to say we’re going to be undefeated. I would certainly not turn my nose up at 2nd in the South and a trip to the Holiday or Alamo bowls.
Go Joe Bruin’s Prediction: Utah 38, UCLA 24.
The guys at Hoyo’s Revenge refused to give a score on account of laughing too hard and having “too much milk go up his nose” so I gave one instead.
You can try and delegitimize Utah all you want, but the Utes are a legit national championship contender if things can swing their way and if they’re healthy. At the very worst, they finish second in the Pac-12 with damn near 10 wins or more. UCLA can only hope to contend in this one, and if the final score sees a seven-point difference in which UCLA is on the losing end, I’ll count that as a win.