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By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Bruins travel to Utah in a battle of Top 25 teams


September 21, 2023

George Laase

USC's running back MarShawn Lloyd ran for 77 yards on nine carries against Stanford on September 9. The Trojans have several outstanding running backs

The nonconference part of the schedule has ended for the UCLA Bruins football team, with the Bruins undefeated with a 3-0 record after defeating the North Carolina Central University Eagles, 59-7. The game was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Saturday afternoon, September 16th, before a crowd of 38,343 fans.

The Bruins disposed of the Eagles early, scoring touchdowns on all five possessions of the first quarter to grab an early 35-0 lead. The Bruins had three one play offensive drives in the first quarter, scoring on the first play of the game on a 67-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Dante Moore to wide receiver Kam Brown.

On the first possession for the Eagles, Bruin linebacker Laiatu Latu intercepted a pass at the Eagles 26 and ran it back to one-yard line, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by running back Carson Steele, giving the Bruins a 14-0 lead.

Moore added to that lead with a 30-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver J. Michael Sturdivant. Backup quarterback Collin Schlee needed one play to find the end zone, scampering 57 yards for a touchdown and followed that up with a one-yard run for a touchdown to give the Bruins a 35-0 first quarter lead. The Bruins used 13 different running backs and five different quarterbacks in the rout.

Bruin head coach Chip Kelly was asked what it was like to be up 35-0 after one quarter. "Obviously, that first quarter was a little interesting," Kelly said. "It got moving quickly, for the opening play of the game to be a touchdown, and then Schlee's first play was a touchdown. We may have scored more points than plays we ran today, and that's not a common occurrence." For the record, the Bruins did score more points than offensive plays run, scoring 59 points to 57 offensive plays.

As the conference heads into the final season of football, the Pac-12 conference currently has eight top 25 teams in the Associated Press Poll. This is a quarterback conference this season. The top five passing teams in the nation by yardage per game are in the Pac-12. Washington, Colorado, Washington State, USC, and Oregon are the top five in the nation.

In the upcoming Week 4 of the 2023 season, Saturday September 23rd, the Pac-12 will play six conference football games. Three games will match up two top 25 teams in the nation. Four of the six will be nationally televised on channels Fox and ABC, with a fifth on ESPN and a sixth game televised on the Pac-12 Network

The 19th ranked Colorado Buffs are 3-0 and with the hiring of head coach and NFL Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders, known as Coach Prime, the television ratings have been off the charts. This past Saturday Night, Colorado hosted Colorado State, winning in double overtime, 43-35.

According to Sports Media Watch, the television viewership for the game was 9.3 million viewers, the most ever for a late-night prime time game on ESPN, also known as the 4th broadcast hour. It was also the highest rated college football game this season.

In 2022, the highest rating for a 4th broadcast hour game was Utah at Oregon, with 2.54 million viewers. At 2:15 AM EST, with the Colorado-Colorado State game in overtime, the television ratings were still at 8.230 million viewers. That was more than the largest viewership for a college game that entire Saturday. An amazing number for a game broadcast at a time when much of the country is asleep.

Colorado is averaging 8.4 million viewers per game this season, more than any other school in the country. That is the strength of Coach Prime, who has brought his popularity, personality, and energy to the Boulder campus in Colorado.

The Oregon Ducks are ranked 10th in the country with a 3-0 record. They are one of three Pac-12 teams currently in the Top Ten. This game will feature the battle of two candidates for the Heisman trophy and two possible future NFL first round picks. Quarterback Bo Nix leads the Ducks and quarterback Shedeur Sanders leads the Buffs. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. on ABC.

The 14th ranked Oregon State Beavers will travel to the Palouse to tangle with their northwest rival, the 21st ranked Washington State Cougars at 4 p.m. on Fox. This game will also feature a battle of two top quarterbacks, with Cameron Ward leading the Cougars and D.J. Uiagalelei leading the Beavers. Both quarterbacks are NFL prospects, and both could be taken in the top 100 of the 2024 NFL draft.

The Cal Bears, with a record of 2-1, will take on the 8th ranked and unbeaten Washington Huskies in Seattle on Saturday Night (7:30 p.m.) in a game on ESPN in the fourth broadcast window, known on the west coast as the Pac-12 after dark game on ESPN. At the same time, the 5th ranked USC Trojans will travel to Tempe to battle the Arizona State Sun Devils in a nationally televised game on FOX.

The Bruins are the 22nd ranked football team in the nation, according to the AP Poll. They will travel to Utah to take on the Utes, the 11th ranked team in the nation for a 12:30 p.m. game on Fox. Utah has won back-to-back conference titles, has won 16 consecutive games at home, and have a sellout streak of 78 games. Utah's stadium holds 51,444 and the field is 4,637 feet above sea level.

Utah is a tough place to play due to the elevation, the crowd, and the quality of the football team. The Bruins have the No. 3 rushing attack in the nation at 270.3 yards per game. The Bruins are one of the few teams in the nation ranked in the Top 25 in both defensive yardage allowed and total offensive yardage per game. This could be the game that ends the Utes home winning streak.


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