SALT LAKE CITY — Just in case you’re wondering, no, UCLA did not change its nickname to the Delta Devils.

It kind of felt like it, though.

A week after the Runnin’ Utes clobbered Mississippi Valley State by a historic 94-point margin, the steamrollin’ Utah football team absolutely annihilated UCLA 49-3 in front of what was announced as the seventh-largest crowd in school history.

“Outstanding performance for our guys tonight. Our offense and defense were really both outstanding,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “That’s a good football team. … We just played well tonight.”

Outstanding performances have become the norm for this surging Ute team, which continues to position itself for a first trip to the Rose Bowl or perhaps even the four-team College Football Playoff.

With its sixth straight victory, the seventh-ranked Utes improved to 9-1 overall and, more importantly, to 6-1 in Pac-12 play. Utah simply needs to beat Arizona on the road next Saturday and defeat Colorado at home in two weeks to win the South again and earn a return trip to the conference championship game next month.

“It was just great preparation by our guys,” Whittingham said. “We worked hard in practice all week long, stayed focused and blocked out all of the outside stuff that’s going on. …

“I like where we’re at, but there’s still football left to be played.”

Considering what was at stake and where these two teams were situated in the Pac-12 South Division standings entering this Week 10 matchup, this lopsided outcome over the Bruins (4-6, 4-3) was even more surprising than the basketball squad’s 143-49 rout of the Delta Devils last Friday.

Though it wasn’t the largest margin of victory in NCAA Division I history, this was the Utes’ biggest blowout of a Pac-12 football opponent since joining the league in 2011. The 46-point slobberknocker eclipsed the previous record for margin of victory over a Pac-12 team of 45 points, which happened back in October (52-7 over Oregon State).

Yeah, it’s been that kind of season for the Utes, who have pounded six consecutive conference foes by an average of 29.0 points per game since falling to USC, 30-23, in the Pac-12 opener.

On offense and defense, the Utes played as sharp as they looked in their snazzy gray and red retro uniforms on a throwback night that turned into a one-sided throwdown night.

After giving up a field goal on the opening drive — a Bruin drive thwarted by back-to-back U. sacks — Utah scored 49 straight points, compiled 536 yards of offense and might have made a UCLA player regret uttering a bulletin-board-worthy statement leading up to this one.

“Utah’s known for being tough,” the Bruins’ Ethan Fernea said just over a week ago. “But I think we’re ready to go out and show that we’re the tougher team.”

“We just came out and laid one on them. And we found out who the more physical team was for sure.” — Utah defensive end Bradlee Anae


Not that this team needs any more motivation, but the Utes used that overly confident quote to their advantage. They listened to it on the bus en route to the stadium, and then went out and kept UCLA out of the end zone. Utah has not allowed a touchdown at RES in 14 quarters, dating back to the 38-13 win over Washington State on Sept. 28.

“We knew what we wanted to do,” Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley said.

Fittingly, Whittingham also used the word “outstanding” to describe Huntley and his Hallandale High/Utah backfield buddy Zack Moss.

Huntley worked his way into the end zone on a 2-yard scamper to put Utah up for good at 7-3 on the Utes’ first possession, and then he precisely picked apart the UCLA defense the rest of the evening. The senior quarterback threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns — including an 83-yard strike to receiver Samson Nacua and a 69-yard toss to tight end Brant Kuithe — on a dialed-in 14 of 18 passing.

Moss hauled in four of those passes for 73 yards receiving and busted loose for 127 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

Kuithe also had a huge game with a career-high 132 yards on five catches, including the long TD play in which he shook free from a defender and zipped in for one of the Utes’ three second-half touchdowns.

As it’s been all season, the Utes’ defense was brilliantly suffocating. UCLA was limited to 269 total yards, including just 50 yards rushing, sustained five sacks, threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball away twice. Pac-12 leading rusher Joshua Kelly was held to 81 yards on 19 carries, far below his league-leading average of 107.6 yards per game.

Utah’s defensive highlight, no doubt, came in the second quarter when safety Julian Blackmon forced UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson into a fumble and then escorted 258-pound defensive end Mika Tafua 68 yards to the end zone after the big lineman scooped up the loose ball.

That was just one of dozens of tough plays by a Ute team that made a clear distinction after getting pumped up by some trash-talking motivation and dreams of an unprecedented postseason.

That distinction?

One of these teams comes from Pasadena.

The tougher team looked like it’s bound and determined to play there on New Year’s Day.

“We just came out and laid one on them,” defensive end Bradlee Anae said. “And we found out who the more physical team was for sure.”

GAME NOTES: The announced crowd of 47,307 was the seventh-largest in school history. ... Blackmon led Utah with 12 tackles, including 1.5 sacks, and an interception in the end zone. ... Bradlee Anae had two sacks, moving him 2.5 sacks closer to school career-leader Hunter Dimick (29.5, 2013-16).