Week 6 was not a safe time for college football teams to wear a single-digit number in front of their name. After unranked Arizona started the weekend by upending No. 2 Oregon Thursday night in Eugene, and No. 12 Mississippi State started Saturday but dusting No. 12 Texas A&M, and No. 11 Ole Miss shocked No. 3 Alabama and No. 25 TCU stunned No. 4 Oklahoma within minutes of each other, you had to know No. 8 UCLA was in trouble against unranked and dangerous Utah Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
It was in more than just trouble, as the Utes dumped the Bruins, 30-28.
As a sign that the upset was just meant to be for Utah, the Pac-12 refs nearly Pac-12 ref’d their way to handing UCLA the win. As UCLA lined up for a potentially game-winning field goal with four seconds to play, Ka’imi Fairbairn‘s 55-yard field goal sailed far wide right, but a generous running into the kicker call gave Fairbairn another try from 50. Ball didn’t lie, and Fairbairn missed.
That, however, was not where this game was lost for UCLA. That came along the offensive line, which allowed quarterback and former Heisman Trophy front-runner Brett Hundley to be sacked a staggering 10 times, including three straight plays in one sequence. Despite that, Hundley still completed 16-of-21 passes for 269 yards with two touchdowns, but threw what proved to be a costly pick six to Tevin Carter that opened the scoring with 5:51 to play in the first quarter.
The Bruins actually succeeded at run blocking, paving the way for Paul Perkins and Jordon James to combine for 149 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
After struggling through one quarter with Travis Wilson (2-of-5 passing, five yards) at quarterback, Kyle Whittingham inserted Kendal Thompson into the game and immediately reaped the benefits. Thompson’s mobility kept UCLA’s defense off-balance. He completed 10-of-13 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown and rushed 19 times for 83 yards.
Devontae Booker led the way for the Utes with 33 carries 156 yards and a touchdown and three receptions for 15 yards.
Utah led the game 17-7 at halftime and could have potentially put the game away while leading 24-14 early in the fourth, but Kaelin Clay dropped a 2nd-and-10 pass that would have put the ball inside UCLA territory. The Utes punted, and two plays later Hundley hit Eldridge Massington for a 93-yard touchdown pass, and suddenly Utah was in scramble mode.
Andy Phillips extended the lead to 27-21 on a 45-yard boot with 6:21 to go, but UCLA immediately grabbed the lead with another long scoring strike from Hundley to Massington with 4:50 to go.
Utah took the ball on the ensuing possession and marched 63 yards in 10 plays, setting Phillips up for a 29-yard game-winner with 34 seconds to go.
Utah’s win and UCLA’s loss creates a three-team logjam in the Pac-12 South, where USC joins these two clubs in a tie for second behind unbeaten Arizona.
Utah, which should be ranked on Sunday, plays next at Oregon State on Oct. 16, while UCLA must turn around to face fellow upset victim Oregon on Saturday.