Facebook Twitter

Are national experts calling for Utah to be on upset alert against UCLA? What about BYU vs. Notre Dame?

SHARE Are national experts calling for Utah to be on upset alert against UCLA? What about BYU vs. Notre Dame?
Utah Utes defensive tackle Aliki Vimahi (95) and teammates celebrate a stop on third down as Utah and Oregon State play.

Utah Utes defensive tackle Aliki Vimahi (95) and teammates celebrate a stop on third down as Utah and Oregon State play at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

It’s an important weekend for both No. 11 Utah and No. 16 BYU.

The Utes face No. 18 UCLA on Saturday in a game that’s likely to have implications on the Pac-12 title race.

The Cougars take on Notre Dame in Las Vegas in a game that could help elevate BYU’s national profile or go the opposite way with a loss.

National experts have made their predictions for what will happen this weekend, and while Utah is seen by most as the favorite against UCLA, there are some who believe the Bruins can spring the upset.

The majority of prognosticators believe Notre Dame will beat BYU, though the Cougars also have their believers.

Here’s a look at what five different publications had to say about the Utah schools, including Utah State, which hosts Air Force. 


ESPN’s Bill Connelly broke down storylines from several key games this weekend and used two ESPN metrics — the SP+ and FPI — to indicate the favorite in those matchups.

No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA

“This is also a battle between two of college football’s most delightful quarterbacks, Utah’s Cam Rising and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson. They are currently sixth and seventh, respectively, in Total QBR,” Connelly wrote.

“This game will be an efficiency battle. UCLA’s offense ranks sixth in overall success rate, and Utah’s is 11th; Utah’s defense ranks 17th, though UCLA’s D is more bend-don’t-break,” Connelly wrote. “Both teams dominate the field position game, both do well in the red zone, and both have benefited from a healthy turnover margin. Whoever carves out better advantages in the down-and-distance category probably wins.

“… The winner of this one scores a huge tiebreaker in what could remain a crowded and thrilling conference race.”

  • SP+ projection: Utah by 0.2
  • FPI projection: Utah by 6.8

No. 16 BYU vs. Notre Dame (Las Vegas)

Notre Dame was projected seventh in SP+ but has fallen to 30th. BYU was 19th after a rousing Week 2 win over Baylor but has fallen to 39th. Notre Dame should be able to run the ball, but if there’s an explosive play, it’s far more likely to come from BYU. It won’t take that many big plays to produce an upset,” Connelly wrote.

  • SP+ projection: Notre Dame by 2.8
  • FPI projection: Notre Dame by 7.2

USA Today

Six USA Today experts made their predictions for the week’s games involving top-25 teams, and both Utah and BYU earned the majority of votes to win.

“The real edge for the Cougars, however, will be the aerial attack. Notre Dame is one of just four FBS teams yet to intercept a pass this season — Ohio, Michigan State and Fresno State are the others — and Jaren Hall has been picked off just once in 171 attempts thus far, Eddie Timanus wrote. 

“The Fighting Irish still won’t have a pick, and the Cougars will have another win after Saturday’s encounter.”

One writer called for UCLA to spring the upset, though.

“Look for UCLA to continue its hot play and after they beat the conference favorite, also look for the Bruins’ viability as a fringe playoff contender,” Scooby Axson wrote. “To beat Utah, Dorian Thompson-Robinson must have a 300-yard day through the air and add another 75 on the ground.”

No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA

  • Scooby Axson: UCLA
  • Jace Evans: Utah
  • Paul Myerberg: Utah
  • Erick Smith: Utah
  • Eddie Timanus: Utah
  • Dan Wolken: Utah

No. 16 BYU vs. Notre Dame (Las Vegas)

  • Scooby Axson: BYU
  • Jace Evans: Notre Dame
  • Paul Myerberg: Notre Dame
  • Erick Smith: BYU
  • Eddie Timanus: BYU
  • Dan Wolken: BYU

Athlon Sports

Three Athlon Sports experts picked the winner from every FBS game this week, including the three Utah schools.

No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA

  • Steven Lassan: Utah
  • Mark Ross: Utah
  • Ben Weinrib: UCLA

No. 16 BYU vs. Notre Dame (Las Vegas)

  • Steven Lassan: Notre Dame
  • Mark Ross: Notre Dame
  • Ben Weinrib: Notre Dame

Air Force at Utah State

  • Steven Lassan: Air Force
  • Mark Ross: Air Force
  • Ben Weinrib: Air Force

Sporting News

Sporting News’ Bill Bender looked at each game involving an Associated Press Top 25 team, predicting a win for Utah and loss for BYU.

No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA

“UCLA has another chance to knock off a Pac-12 contender, but this won’t be easy. The Utes have been on a mission since the season-opening loss at Florida,” Bender wrote. 

“UCLA averages 41.4 points per game, but they are up against the top defense in the Pac-12 (14.4 ppg.). The Utes also have averaged 46.8 points per game in the last five meetings against the Bruins. They would have no problem in a shootout.” 

  • Prediction: Utah 38, UCLA 28

No. 16 BYU vs. Notre Dame (Las Vegas)

“The Cougars and Irish meet at Allegiant Stadium, of all places, and this a showcase game for BYU quarterback Jaren Hall — who averages 301.2 yards of total offense per game. The Irish had the bye week to prepare, and Drew Pyne has completed 69.8% of his passes,” Bender wrote.

  • Prediction: Notre Dame 28, BYU 24

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report’s Morgan Moriarty made predictions for every game involving an AP Top 25 team and called for both Utah and BYU to lose.

No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA

“It looks like Chip Kelly finally has things rolling at UCLA, as the Bruins are off to their best start since his debut season in 2018,” Moriarty wrote. “… The Utes have won the last four straight following their Week 1 loss at Florida, but this will be the first ranked team Utah has faced all season.

“This one should be close throughout, and the Bruins might have a slight advantage in taking this one at home.”

  • Prediction: UCLA 35, Utah 28

No. 16 BYU vs. Notre Dame (Las Vegas)

“At the beginning of the season, this one looked like it could have major playoff implications. But through five weeks of the season, this matchup has lost a lot of its luster,” Moriarty wrote.

“... I think Notre Dame’s offense will be too much for this BYU defense, which allows 335.4 yards per game. Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime has rushed for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the last two weeks. ND quarterback Drew Pyne threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns in the win over North Carolina.

  • Prediction: Notre Dame 42, BYU 21