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UCLA Bruins Football at Utah Utes: First Half Game Thread

UCLA (7-3, 4-3) travels to Salt Lake to face Utah (8-2, 5-2). The winner stays alive for the Pac-12 South Title. The loser can start packing for El Paso, or worse.

Can Josh Rosen and the Bruins overcome Utah, the refs, and most of all, themselves?
Can Josh Rosen and the Bruins overcome Utah, the refs, and most of all, themselves?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

"This is it for us. This is it for them."

Kenny Clark said that earlier this week and that pretty much sums up this game. With the Bruins and the Utes part of a three way race for the Pac-12 South with two games remaining, this becomes essentially a playoff game. The winner will stay alive for the South division championship and the loser will be left to think about what could have been.

Kickoff is at 12:30 pm PT at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the Utah campus.

The game is televised on Fox. Utah is favored by 2 points.

It's been a week of drama for the Bruins following an even more dramatic last second loss at home on Senior Night to Washington State. The usual culprits of bad play calls and penalties and our general failure to seize the day combined with the SPTRs outdoing even themselves sank the Bruins who had control of their own destiny. But Utah squandered control of their own destiny in a double OT loss against Arizona that kept the Bruins afloat for another week. Now the two go face to face to see who wants to win the South and who wants to play in a middle tier bowl.

U.C.L.A. can sympathize with losing a star player (or three) to injury, so we feel for the Utes who will go without their outstanding running back Devontae Booker. The senior underwent surgery for a torn cartilage in his knee this week and will miss the rest of the Utes regular season. The Bruins rush defense has had some struggles this year so every bit helps. Utah senior QB Travis Wilson is an accomplished passer and you can count on Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham to have his team ready and sharp.

On the offensive side, Josh Rosen and Paul Perkins and Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte have done all they can to overcome some weak decisions by the coaches this year, and the Bruins will need to be more efficient in the red zone and consistent through the game this week if they have intentions of winning this game. On both sides of the ball, the Bruins absolutely have to limit penalties that torpedo their own drives and buoy the opponent's.

Speaking of...I'm concerned about how the referees will approach this game. I'd love to say at the end of the game that no one even noticed the zebras. My fear is that the first time one of them starts to throw a flag on Utah, he'll think that he doesn't want to seem like he's feeling pressure from the Bruins vocal complaints this week, and he'll keep the flag in his pocket instead. It will be interesting to see if the Bruins get any fewer calls than normal, if that's possible.

Despite the ups and downs of the season so far, U.C.L.A. can still get to the Pac-12 Title game with a win this week and another next week.

It all starts here. This is it for us...

Share your thoughts and observations and anything else that comes to mind here with your fellow Bruins.

This is our first half game thread. Have at it!