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Two top-ranked teams in the Pac-12 will face off against each other at the iconic Rose Bowl. The UCLA Bruins will host the red-hot Utah Utes in a highly anticipated Week 6 matchup. Handicapper Matt MacKay is here to make his predictions.
ANALYSIS

UCLA VS. UTAH PREDICTION, PICK, AND ODDS: WILL UTAH END UCLA'S UNDEFEATED START?

Chip Kelly's coaching tenure at UCLA has slowly turned itself around for the better. A lot of this has been his chemistry and the aided development of fifth-year senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who is playing lights out through the first five weeks of the 2022 season. The Bruins were home underdogs against a previously undefeated Washington Huskies team led by Michael Penix Jr. but UCLA dominated from start to finish.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has a .676 win percentage in his 19th season with the program. He has not allowed the Utes to fall below .500 since 2013, showing the benefit of having a consistent coach amidst the hectic coaching carousel we've seen expand across college football. The Utes were upset by Florida in the Swamp in Week 1, which appears to have lit a fire on the defense, which is giving up fewer than 20 points per game across the last four weeks.

Something has to give when the high-flying Bruins offense collides with a gritty, tough Utah defense. Will UCLA win twice in a row as home underdogs? Here are our picks, predictions, and odds for Saturday afternoon's Pac-12 battle between the UCLA Bruins vs. Utah Utes.

UCLA VS. UTAH START TIME AND WHERE TO WATCH

Date: Saturday, October 8

Game time: 3:30 pm ET

Where to Watch: FOX

UCLA VS. UTAH ODDS

Spread: UCLA +4 (-110), Utah -4 (-110)

Total: Under 64 (-110), Over 64 (-110)

Moneyline: UCLA (+160), Utah (-190)

Click Here for UCLA vs. Utah Odds

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UCLA VS. UTAH INJURY REPORT

UCLA

DL Martin Andrus Jr. (Questionable - Leg)

UTAH

WR Solomon Enis (Questionable - Undisclosed)

UCLA VS. UTAH PREDICTION

The Bruins are 5-0 and scoring over 41 points per game. At the helm is Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who was recruited by Chip Kelly back in 2018. Hailed as a former offensive guru when making a name for himself at the University of Oregon, Kelly attempted to convert this success at the NFL level, but it did not end well. His return to UCLA had a rocky start, going 3-9 and 4-8 in 2018 and 2019, but finishing 2021 8-4 and starting this season 5-0 is a sign of steady growth and development.

Zach Charbonnet left the University of Michigan for UCLA in 2021, and he's been a dynamic asset in Kelly's spread option scheme. The senior running back is averaging 6.4 YPC, while Keegan Jones is a nice change-of-pace option, providing soft hands and hard running when it's needed. Thompson-Robinson is a dynamic ball carrier in his own right, evading defenders in open space and handling over 30 carries through the first five weeks of the season. Tight end Jake Bobo transferred from Duke this offseason and leads the Bruins with three touchdowns and 363 receiving yards.

UCLA's defense has been rock solid in four of its games, but it did allow South Alabama to hang around for the entirety of the second half before a walk-off field goal sealed the win for the Bruins. It will have a completely new challenge against the Utes' experienced multiple pro-scheme-style offenses.

Utah doesn't have the flash and explosiveness that UCLA does on offense, but it counters with an incredibly talented defensive unit. Since the Week 1 opening loss to Florida, the Utes have stifled opposing offenses, allowing 43 total points across its previous four games. This has resulted in lopsided victories, including a decisive win in Provo over an Oregon State team that nearly pulled off the upset win over No. 7 USC. The Utah secondary is its strength, limiting opponents to 155.4 yards and 0.4 touchdowns per game.

UCLA has a strong running game, which could give the Utes problems in Pasadena. Neither of these Pac-12 teams has played a murderer's row of opponents, with both teams ranked in the bottom 30 in terms of strength of schedule. Utah has an elite pair of tight ends in Brant Kuithe and Dalton Kincaid, who have eight touchdowns combined and at least 200 receiving yards a piece. Tavion Thomas and Jaylon Glover are the top running backs in Kyle Whittingham's pro-style offense, allowing Cameron Rising to be hyper-efficient, throwing 13 touchdowns to only two interceptions.

UCLA will need to run more than it wants to, as Thompson-Robinson will be challenged mightily with Utah's secondary. He has only thrown one interception and is a dynamic ball carrier, so he could continue to be effective in moving the chains despite his wideouts getting blanketed in coverage. Rising could deliver the Utes' attack through the air, as UCLA's run defense is much stronger than its passing defense, which is allowing a 61 percent completion rate with 1.6 touchdowns per game.

The spread records are intriguing here. The Bruins are 2-2 ATS at home this season, including a huge win as underdogs last weekend. Utah is 4-1 ATS overall, 3-0 at home, while 1-1 ATS on the road. Struggles against South Alabama and Bowling Green prevented UCLA from being 4-0 ATS at home. They will be prepared for Utah, but can they muster enough points against one of the nation's top defenses?

I like Utah to keep rolling. Yes, it's a difficult UCLA offense, but the Utes have already faced adversity and are using their loss against Florida as motivation to steamroll opponents. Laying four points is too much for me to buy into. I'll play it safe and take Utah's moneyline to win outright in a close one.

UCLA VS. UTAH PICK

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Article Author

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Matt is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game within the game which is fantasy sports and sports betting. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.

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