Early in the day I was caught up in the game between No. 7 Wisconsin and FCS sacrificial lamb The Citadel. I was hoping for another seismic upset at a Big Ten school by a Southern Conference team broadcast on the Big Ten Network, announced by Thom Brennaman. Alas, the Appalachian State-sized upset did not occur, despite the game being tied at halftime.
Even No. 12 Penn State had trouble with Buffalo — Buffalo!? — in the first half before pulling away. And No. 6 Texas held on with a close win at Central Florida. Where on earth is that daggum upset?
I just wasn't looking westward enough. We crazy Midwesterners never do. Editors note: Nor do we care to stay up that late.
The Utah Utes — a winless team already 0-1 in their own conference — went into their home game against UCLA as 13½ point underdogs, having never beaten the 11th ranked Bruins. They left the game with a decisive 44-6 victory over UCLA, a team who was starting to prove they were a Pac 10 contender this year, but now has to apply HeadOn directly to their bruised ego.
Looking into the numbers, you might expect Utah to have gone pass happy on the questionable Bruin defense. While that did happen (Utah quarterback Tommy Grady threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, and backup QB Corbin Louks added one of his own), the running game was sort of effective too (Darrell Mack ran 19 times for 108 yards). But the real story was in UCLA's laundry list of turnovers and penalties. They had a total of five — seven, if you count the two failed fourth down conversions — which led to 24 points for the Utes. They were also flagged 10 times for a loss of 66 yards. Combine that with the 40 yards lost via the sack, and, well, that just wasn't too good a day for the Bruins.
The Bruins could only take Utah's lone turnover and make a field goal out of it, pulling to within as close as 7-6 in the second quarter, but an end-of-half touchdown by Utah was an ominous sign for Bruins Nation, who witnessed their team get outscored 30-0 in the second half.
UCLA quarterback Ben Olson was pressured all night, getting sacked five times — twice by Utah lineman Koa Misi, who also recovered a fumble. Olson and UCLA's offense couldn't score a touchdown all game, a dubious feat the school hadn't accomplished since 2003, when then-UCLA quarterback Drew Olson (no relation) eked out a 6-3 win over a pathetic Illinois team.
So now the rest of the season looks much different for both teams than they did 24 hours prior. On the losing side, UCLA must find a way to stop teams from airing the ball right over their defense. Oregon and USC are the top tier of the Pac 10 especially because of their passing offense, and if the Bruins can't fix this, they won't have any real shot at the Rose Bowl. Fortunately, they have time to improve their secondary play, since USC and Oregon are their final games of the regular season.
For Utah, their confidence is restored for a run at the Mountain West crown. After surprisingly losing to Air Force last week, they have a chance to pull to .500 in the conference next week against UNLV. Their two biggest MWC games of the year are against frontrunners TCU and BYU. Unfortunately, they're both road games. Both of those teams play disciplined, but Utah has shown they can capitalize on mistakes — now they just have to force them.