SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – If the Utes needed to make a statement to the College Football Playoff Committee, Saturday night’s performance may have done just that.
Zack Moss ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns and added 65 receiving yards to help 7th-ranked Utah rout UCLA 49-3 on Saturday night.
Moss moved into second-place for career all-purpose yardage at Utah. Tyler Huntley threw for a season-high 335 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-18 passing. Brant Kuithe had a career-high 132 yards and a touchdown on five catches.
The Utes (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12, No. 7 CFP) beat the Bruins for the fourth straight season. Utah totaled 536 yards on offense and rushed for 201 yards.
“Outstanding performance by our guys tonight,” said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “Proud of them. Offense and defense really both played well. That’s a good football team too in that other locker room. They have got a lot of playmakers, the quarterback is special and we just played well tonight. Give them some credit because they have some guys out there that are talented and athletic.”
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 219 yards, but he had a pair of interceptions and a pair of fumbles. Thompson-Robinson was also sacked five times.
“We certainly won the rushing battle and controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage,” Whittingham said.
The Utes wanted to prove they were the more physical team and proved it over 60 minutes. Utah’s ability to be disruptive on every play caused the Bruins to unravel more and more as the game progressed.
“It just lays the foundation for the rest of the things,” defensive end Bradlee Anae said. “When you’re more physical, other things come along.”
Utah overwhelmed UCLA in every possible way starting in the second quarter. The Utes totaled 189 yards on 15 plays in that quarter alone and forced a pair of Bruin turnovers. UCLA drove deep into Utah territory on multiple drives only to see each drive end in a turnover or a flurry of sacks.
“We just went out there and tried to win,” Moss said. “We don’t care what the score is. We just want to come out and execute plays and put in our best effort. It’s not about the team we’re going against, it’s about us.”
“It was a humbling moment for our team,” Thompson-Robinson said. “It was a learning experience for everyone.”
The Bruins took their only lead at 3-0 after JJ Molson capped their opening drive with a 43-yard field goal. Utah took the lead for good after Huntley capped off the Utes’ first drive with a 2-yard run.
Once the second quarter started, Utah ran away from UCLA. The Utes scored on four straight drives to take a 35-3 lead with 13:31 left in the third quarter. Moss accounted for two of those scores.
His second touchdown came on a four-play drive where Moss generated 95 yards of offense by himself. The senior took a short pass 50 yards to get Utah inside the UCLA 30. Then, following a pair of false starts, Moss raced 38 yards for the score.
“Everything was just gelling pretty well,” Moss said.
UCLA had a pair of promising second-quarter drives end in turnovers. Julian Blackmon intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop the Bruins’ second drive. Then, later in the quarter, he sacked Thompson-Robinson for an 18-yard loss on third down and forced a fumble. Mika Tafua scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 68 yards for the touchdown.
Utah’s initial scoring frenzy ended when Kuithe spun out of a tackle and took a pass 69 yards to give the Utes their fourth touchdown over four consecutive drives.
“I go in every game thinking I’m going to get a lot more targets,” said Kuithe, who five catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. “But Snoop got me the ball, I was open in space and just made a move. Credit to the o-line and credit to Tyler also.”
Asked how much confidence Huntley has in his team now, Huntley said, “A lot more confidence than I have in myself. And I have a lot of confidence in myself.”
Utah next plays at Arizona November 23rd.