Well, it looks like Devontae Booker had knee surgery on his torn meniscus. Unlike Myles Jack, who underwent the "repair" route, which takes 4-6 months to recover, Booker went with the "shave" route, which means he'll be back for a bowl game. But he won't be in uniform until then. Which means he'll miss the rest of the regular season. Which means he'll miss UCLA. Which is huge. HUGE!
Utah's backup, Joe Williams, only has 18 carries for 78 yards on the season. This is Williams' first season as a Ute, having played the last two years at ASA College in Brooklyn, New York, after leaving UConn's program as a freshman in 2012. Given this history, how will he do against UCLA's front seven, banged up as they are? Remember, Utah's starting QB, Travis Wilson, can run the ball. And, if you read BN's preview of Utah's offense, you know that backup QB, Kendal Thompson, ran all over UCLA last year after Wilson went down early
Might Utah find some way to get Thompson involved now that Booker is out? Or will they simply rely on Wilson and Williams? Ravenous Ute thinks Utah will rely on defense and special teams. Will that be enough? Remember, Utah's front seven is stout, so UCLA's ability to run the ball may be called into question. Lots of uncertainty going into this critical game. This game just went from "advantage: Utah" to "flip a coin." It could be a dogfight.
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I've been wanting to select this song for the lyrics and, quite frankly, just the title of the song for a couple of weeks now. The title has to work with the venue, though. Maybe I should have picked it last week instead of the Foo Fighters. But that was not in line with Ka'imi's theme on senior day. Now I'm running out of games. No way in hell I use this song for the Mausoleum. Will we play in the Rose Bowl again this season? Unlikely (but one can dream, right). Nope, it's gotta be for tomorrow's game.
And the game is going to be a battle. UCLA really needs this win to have a chance to save its season. Utah will be looking to prove itself without its best player on offense. Everybody is going to be charged up and ready to go. So the song's video, replete with images of animals doing battle, is apropos as well.
Here is one of my favorite songs from my favorite (favourite?) band from north of the border, eh? The band is Metric and the song is called "Stadium Love." Enjoy:
Extra credit for Metric making an old-school style music video for their 2009 hit.
Wanna make a bet
Odds are neck and neck
Taking off the gloves
I think the gloves are OFF for both teams this week.
Every living thing
Pushed into the ring
Fight it out
To wow the crowd
Guess you thought
You could just watch
No one's getting out
Without stadium love
In 2013, UCLA got some "stadium love" from Utah, when Travis Wilson gifted the Bruins six interceptions, allowing the Bruins to prevail by a touchdown. Will Rice-Eccles give the Bruins ANY stadium love this year?
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At least one of this week's Pregame Guesses have to relate to Booker's absence, and its effect on the game. Can UCLA's battered defense withstand a Utah rushing attack that is missing a major weapon? Utah averaged 184 yards on the ground this season with Booker. Utah has not one but two quarterbacks that can run the ball. The backup QB, Thompson, gashed the Bruins last season. How will Joe Williams respond to the challenge of being the staring running back? PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 1: I am setting the over/under on Utah rushing yards at 134 (50 yards below their average). Will the Utes rush for more or less yards?
Utah's passing offense is #99 in the nation. As discussed in BN's defensive preview, Utah's secondary could be susceptible to the Bruin air attack. Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte have been consistent threats for some time now. Each could have a big game against Utah. It is unclear if Devin Fuller will see the field. Let's stick with just Payton and Duarte. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 2: Will those two have more or less than 200 combined yards receiving between them?
The Utes are #12 in the nation in turnover margin. They have 25 takeaways through ten games and have turned the ball over 16 times. UCLA has 16 takeaways and have turned over the ball 14 times (big asterisk next to the last two, PAC 12 booth review guy). The Bruins are traveling to altitude (Rice-Eccles is at 4,657 feet above sea level), and will face a tough, red clad crowd. The Bruins have a checkered past to say the least in the state of Utah. Hostile territory indeed. Given the stats and the venue, how will turnovers affect this game? PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 3: Multiple choice!!! Select the best answer:
a. Utah will turn the ball over at least 3 times and the Bruins will win.
b. Utah will turn the ball over less than 3 times and the Bruins will win.
c. Utah will turn the ball over less than 3 times and the Utes will win.
d. UCLA will turn the ball over less than 3 times and the Bruins will win.
e. UCLA will turn the ball over less than 3 times and the Utes will win.
f. UCLA will turn the ball over at least 3 times and the Utes will win.
g. None of the above.
And, finally, just like last week, we have the Crowd's Line which lets you predict the final score of the game.
That is it for this week's Pregame Guesses. Please add your guesses and other thoughts in the comments section below.
I hope that each and every one of you have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!!!