BY Brice Larson & Bill Riley
Utah escaped its Pac-12 conference opener at home on Saturday defeating UCLA 14-7 despite the offensive struggles the team faced. The Utah defense stole the show, holding UCLA to just 7 points and shutting down freshman QB Dante Moore. Utah’s defensive effort was highlighted by the Karene Reid interception returned for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game and the final drive where Utah got to Moore on three separate occasions to stifle a would-be game winning drive.
Saturday’s performance had us asking the question, does Utah have the best defense in the nation?
According to sports-refernce.com Utah is listed as the No. 6 total defense in college football through the first 4 weeks of the season. The five teams ahead of them are: 1. Michigan 2. Ohio State 3. Oklahoma 4. Duke 5. Penn State.
There are plenty of other ways to judge a defense though. Turnovers that lead to touchdowns or even defensive scores are just as important if not more important than just looking at total defense. Utah has averaged 1.8 turnovers per game to this point of the 2023 season. A statistic that ranks them at No. 36 nationally.
Havoc rate is another way to judge a defense. A defensive Havoc rating is defined as “the summation of passes defensed, forced fumbles and tackles for loss divided by the number of plays.” according to Action Networks Havoc rate rankings. The Utes currently sit at No. 8 in the nation after week 4 came to a close.
Overall, we can’t make the claim that the Utes have the best defense in college football just yet. They still have a bit more work to do to become the top unit in the nation. Although, it is safe to say that this is one of the best Utah defenses in recent history.
With that, here are the Week 5 Pac-12 Power Rankings.
Brice Larson’s Power Rankings