Riding the wave of a two-game winning streak, the UCLA Bruins football team (2-5, 2-2 Pac-12) welcomes the #23 Utah Utes (5-2, 3-2 Pac-12) to the Rose Bowl tomorrow night. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm PT, under the Friday night lights.
In a classic case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the Utes did UCLA fans a solid last weekend, scoring 34 unanswered points against Southern Cal, after the Trojans had taken a 14-0 lead. Southern Cal would never get closer than a 13 point deficit and would up losing 41-28.
UCLA is coming off a nail-biting 31-30 win over an Arizona Wildcat team that some expected the Bruins to win by a greater margin. This is the same Arizona team that Utah destroyed the week prior, 42-10. So, by transitive property, Utah should beat the Bruins tomorrow night, riiiiiiight?
It’s instrumental week at Pregame Guesses this week. That’s right, no lyrics. I love instrumental songs because I believe that each such song allows the listener to more personally connect to the music. I am selecting three such songs this week. You may like one; you may like two; or you may like them all. Hopefully, you will not dislike all three, and there is something for everybody:
First off is Noel Gallagher of Oasis fame, performing a solo project that made it onto the soundtrack of the 1998 “X-Files” motion picture, in which the song was run during the movie’s closing credits. The song is “Teotihuacan.”
Next up is a song from The Smiths that never made it on to one of their many albums, except the live version, which appears on “Rank.” IMO, the studio version, which was only released as a B-side to their single, “Panic,” is far superior. The song is called “The Draize Train” and it is absolutely brilliant.
Long live Johnny Marr!
Finally, we are going back a few more years to a cover version of one of Dick Dale’s surf guitar classics. This one has more of a punkish edge. It is “Miserlou,” the 1981 version performed by SoCal pseudopunks, Agent Orange:
That one is definitely edgier that the previous two. Hopefully, you enjoyed at least one of the tunes. Let’s move on to the guesses.
Utah has the #1 rushing defense in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision of college football. Teams only average 2.39 yards per rush and 74.6 yards per game on the ground. Only Myles Gaskin (30 carries for 143 yards) has broken the century mark against Utah this season. Wazzou, in an effort that paid off with a W, pretty much decided not to run the ball against Utah, with Cougar backs only carrying the rock ten times all game (versus 56 passes)! JJ Taylor, who gashed UCLA for 153 yards last week, only had 63 against Utah the week before.
On the other hand, Joshua Kelley and the UCLA line have been improving since the return of Boss Tagaloa to begin conference play, as Kelley became the first back to rush for over 100 yards in four consecutive games since little Tyler Ebell did it in six games in a row in 2002. Unfurtunately, UCLA has now lost one of the cogs in the improving line, Justin Murphy, for the season due to a knee injury.
Something has to give tomorrow.
PREGAME GUESS #1: TRUE OR FALSE? Joshua Kelley will extend his 100-yard game streak to five games against the Utes.
Utah’s junior quarterback Tyler Huntley was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after throttling Southern Cal. Huntley was 22 of 29, for 341 yards and four touchdowns. He was also effective with his legs, as he has been all season. Huntley averages 13 carries a game and has scores four rushing touchdowns on the season. And, we all know how UCLA has fared against running quarterbacks in the past.
PREGAME GUESS #2: Predict the number of Tyler Huntley’s passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns.
One thing that isn’t being talked about much is how Chip Kelly’s offense has, for the most part, protected the football as the young offense grows. UCLA is tied for #14 in the nation in turnover margin, with the Bruins taking the ball away from its opponent 13 times, and only losing it seven times, for a plus-6 turnover margin. Utah, on the other hand, is tied for #87 in the nation with a minus-2 turnover margin. The Utes have taken the football away from opponents ten times and have turned it over 12 times, nine of which were fumbles (tied for #120 in the nation).
As we saw last weekend with Darnay Holmes’ epic punch-out right before the goal line and recovery in the end zone, turnovers can change games. If UCLA can win the turnover battle, they might be able to steal a victory from the Utes.
PREGAME GUESS #3: How many times will Utah turn the ball over? How many turnovers will UCLA give up?
Last week only 54,686 fans showed up at the Rose Bowl for UCLA vs. Arizona.
BONUS GUESS: On a Friday night in rush hour traffic (and with the Dodgers playing Game 3 of the World Series just down the 110), how many fans will come to the Rose Bowl to cheer on the Bruins?
Give us your guesses and any other thoughts about the musical selection or UCLA football in general in the comment section below.