Utes staying loose headed into showdown against UCLA

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Winner of Saturday's game has control of Pac-12 South

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – If the #8 Utah football team is feeling any pressure down the stretch of what is looking like a very special 2019 season, they sure aren’t showing it.

After practice Monday night, offensive linemen Nick Ford and Simi Moala, along with defensive lineman Bradlee Anae all did the Macarena dance.

“College football is a grind,” Ford explained. “Sometimes, you just got to have a little fun.”

The Utes have been having a lot of fun, riding a 5-game winning streak headed into Saturday’s showdown at home against UCLA. The winner will be in control of the Pac-12 South and have the inside track to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

So how difficult is it for head coach Kyle Whittingham to keep his team focused on the task at hand, and not on the possibility of making the College Football Playoffs?

“Easy, because our only focus and task is to get a win this week,” Whittingham said as his team returns from a bye week. “No matter what you’re ranked, no matter what all that outside noise says, you can’t worry about that because no matter what it says, you’ve got to win.”

“None of us really think about that,” added linebacker Francis Bernard. “We just show up every single day ready to work and ready to do our thing. The results are showing because the fruits of our labor are showing.”

While the Utes have won five straight, the Bruins have overcome a slow start to win three in a row, led by quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the leading rusher in the conference, Joshua Kelley.

“They have some momentum, a three-game win streak,” Whittingham said. They’re starting to figure out who they are, and they’re starting to settle in and they’re a very confident team.”

“If you look at them, the losses that they did have were to pretty good teams,” said Ford. “Oklahoma, Cincinnati, San Diego State were all ranked at the time.”

Despite being heavy favorites, the Utes know they are going to get the Bruins best shot.

“Everybody wants a shot at the big guys,” said Anae. “So, we’re going to get everybody’s best shot every weekend. So it’s just another time to prove that you’re the biggest and the baddest.”

“In this conference, anything can happen on any given day,” Bernard said. “So, preparation is key, and you’ve got to go into every single week like it’s your last week playing.”

Utah (8-1) and UCLA (4-5) kick off at 6:00 p.m. Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

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