SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – If the Utes are going to 3-peat as Pac-12 champions, they have to take care of business in conference play at home, starting Saturday against the #22 UCLA.

“UCLA is the most important thing on everybody’s minds right now,” said running back Jaylon Glover. “First week of Pac-12 play going against a top-25 opponent, it’s going to be big. So I think everybody is getting that message that we know how important this game is.”

For the first time in five years, UCLA doesn’t have Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback. DTR is off to the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. Enter freshman Dante Moore, who has already thrown for 615 yards and seven touchdowns in three games.

“He’s a little bit different player than Dorian is,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “He’s not quite as much of a runner, but he’s a really good player. He already is productive, and he’s going to be outstanding before it’s all over.”

Utah’s quarterback situation is still undecided. Whittingham said Cam Rising “looked good” after Tuesday’s practice. If Rising is not able to make his season debut, freshman Nate Johnson will get his second start. Johnson threw for 191 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 77 yards and a score against Weber State.

“For his first start as a collegiate quarterback, I thought he handled it pretty darn good,” Whittingham said. “He played well, didn’t press, no panic in him whatsoever. He just proceeded to run the offense for all four quarters. He’ll continue to evolve as a quarterback, and we’ll continue to put more on his plate.”

“Next man up mentality,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve taken no reps, you’ve got to step in and do your part. That’s what we’ve been doing these three weeks.”

The Utes defense has only given up three touchdowns in three games. They’re hoping to get some injured players back this week to try to slow down the high-powered UCLA offense.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in that defense,” Whittingham said. “They’ve performed very well through three games. We know we’re not going to have to score 40 points most weeks to win. The defense has done a nice job of keeping teams out of the end zone and points off the board.”

This will be the last time Utah and UCLA play a Pac-12 game, with the Utes off to the Big 12 and the Bruins to the Big Ten next year. From that first conference showdown in the snow at Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2011, the Utes have gone 7-4 against the Bruins, including a 42-32 loss last year in the Rose Bowl.

Kyle Whittingham says not having that L.A. market in the conference will affect recruiting in the future.

“It’s been really good to us, Southern California in particular has been a hugely productive area for us,” Whittingham said. “Us moving to another conference as well changes that dynamic quite a bit. We will still recruit the Southern Cal area, but we won’t dedicate as many coaches to that area as we have in the past.”