Tackling seemed a lost art for long stretches of this Thursday night showdown in Salt Lake City. Travis Wilson and Brett Hundley carried their respective teams, the latter even catching a touchdown pass in the second quarter. That grab highlighted a tight first half of momentum swings, after which Utah trailed by only four points and easily could have led. Two Utes drives in that half stagnated well inside Bruins territory, however, reducing the pressure on UCLA in its Pac-12 opener. So did four Utah turnovers in the first three quarters, a contrast with its opponent’s clean slate in that category. Hundley absorbed more hits than one would prefer, even leaving in the third quarter for a concussion test. The stiffening Utah defense heightened the pressure on him in the second half, resulting in a late, game-tying interception on an unwise pass attempt. But Hundley eventually played the hero by sandwiching two clutch third-down runs around one of Wilson’s six (!) interceptions.
Struggling to break away from an unranked opponent, the South Division favorite showed little to suggest that it can topple the Oregon/Stanford duopoly at the peak of the conference. For its part, Utah showed plenty of spirit (and improvement) despite a second painful home loss that dropped it to 0-2 in conference play.