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Utah Sacks UCLA, Ceates Wide Open Pac-12 South Race

UCLA Bruins

UCLA Bruins

Not protecting the quarterback finally caught up with UCLA.

Just one week after looking like a national title contender on the road against Arizona State, Brett Hundley was sacked a staggering 10 times by Utah on Saturday night in the disappointing 30-28 home loss.

The UCLA quarterback entered this season as the most sacked QB in the nation over the last two years with 87 sacks under Jim Mora. After giving up 10 sacks to the Utes, those issues are still painfully obvious as the Bruins now rank 124th in sacks allowed for the year — 22.0 for 131 lost yards.

The home loss capped a month of wondering when UCLA's offensive line woes would cost the Bruins a victory and Utah took advantage.

One week after coughing up a big second half league to Washington State at home, Utah's defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. Nate Orchard tied a school record with 4.0 sacks while setting a personal best with 11 tackles. In all, six different Utes registered a sack against the Bruins Heisman Trophy candidate.

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It wasn't just the defense that stepped up, however, as backup quarterback Kendal Thompson replaced Travis Wilson just two series into the game. His quickness caused UCLA issues on defense as he led the Utes on the game-winning drive over the final four minutes of play. Thompson finished 10-of-13 passing for 95 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 83 yards on 19 carries.

Clearly, Kyle Whittingham is still looking for consistency but road wins over UCLA and Michigan (stop laughing) prove his bunch can play with anyone. Mora, meanwhile, still has major offensive line and playmaker issues surrounding Hundley on offense. Both teams have glaring warts but both teams are capable of beating anyone in the league at anytime.

And they are both right in the thick of what should be an entertaining Pac-12 South race over the final two months. A week ago, this battle looked like a two horse race with UCLA and USC poised to collide near the season's end.

Seven days later and it looks like a completely different division.

Arizona toppled Oregon in impressive fashion and is the lone remaining unbeaten team both in conference (2-0) and overall (5-0) but has yet to play a division game. Arizona State staved off elimination with a final play Hail Mary against USC but still faces a nasty slate of North Division opponents. USC is also in desperate need of consistency but has the easiest schedule of any team in the South. Lastly, Utah, whose special teams and defensive line give it as good a shot as any in the South, now owns the tiebreaker over UCLA.

The Bruins are still the frontrunner to get to Levi's Stadium but could easily fall to 1-2 in the league with an angry Oregon team visiting the Rose Bowl this weekend. A three- or four-game hole might be too much to overcome.

Especially, if this unit cannot keep Brett Hundley off the turf.