Dante Moore is doing special things early in his UCLA career.
This would be the topper.
He has a chance to become the first true freshman quarterback to beat Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium since Oregon's Justin Herbert in 2016 when the No. 22 Bruins (3-0) face the No. 11 Utes (3-0) on Saturday afternoon.
It's a much bigger challenge than beating San Diego State and North Carolina Central. The two-time defending Pac-12 champion Utes have won 16 consecutive home games, dating to 2020, and have not lost to UCLA in Salt Lake City since 2015.
"That's one special team, so it's going to be a great battle," Moore said this week, adding that he had looked up the capacity of 54,000 at Utah's stadium and expected that number to fill the place for both teams' conference opener.
Here are five things to watch in a game televised by Fox starting at 12:30 PDT:
Moore is averaging 205 yards passing per game despite having thrown just 51 passes over three games, meaning he's averaging 12.06 yards per pass to lead all true freshman quarterbacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
That number also ranks second among Pac-12 quarterbacks, trailing only USC's Caleb Williams (12.54). Moore's seven touchdown passes lead all true freshman FBS quarterbacks and his 32 completions rank fifth. He's had only one pass intercepted, and it came under heavy pressure in the season opener.
"He's not been overwhelmed by the situation that he's in," UCLA coach Chip Kelly said. "You know, we preach about living your life in vision, not circumstance, and I think he really does. He has a vision of what he wants to be as a player and what he wants to be as a person and I think he adheres to that."
Tipping their hand?
UCLA senior center Duke Clemens appeared to indicate this week that the offense would be run-heavy.
" Coach [Kelly] likes to say when you go on the road, you've got to bring defense, a run game and special teams," Clemens said, "so we're looking to run the ball and hopefully have some success."
Steele ranks fourth nationally with 8.1 yards per carry, and Harden's 9.3 yards would rank even higher except his 25 carries fall short of the 10 per game needed to qualify.
They'll go up against a Utah run defense giving up just 65 yards per game on the ground, ranking No. 2 in the Pac-12 and No. 11 nationally.
In or out?
Kelly said he's preparing his team to face three Utah quarterbacks, including Cam Rising.
The Newbury Park native has not played since the Rose Bowl, when he suffered a serious knee injury, but he's practiced with the team in recent weeks and could make his season debut.
If not, the Utes likely will continue to go with redshirt freshman Nate Johnson, who has emerged as a superior option to season-opening starter Bryson Barnes. Utah's Kyle Whittingham said this week that he hoped to get three or four players back from a rash of at least 15 injuries that he said was the worst in his 40 seasons as a coach.
Whoever plays quarterback will face a UCLA defense that has held each of its first three opponents to 13 points or fewer.
A true gamer
Keith Belton, UCLA's director of football performance, has been a sight to behold in warmups the last few weeks.
Hobbling around with a protective boot on one foot, he's nonetheless displayed the same (high) level of energy preparing the Bruins. Kelly said Belton was hurt when he was inadvertently kicked in the leg during practice.
"It doesn't seem to slow K.B. down because he's still doing somersaults and flips and all those other things," Kelly said, "so maybe he's just setting a tone for the toughness of this football team."
The Bruins piped in artificial sounds at practice this week to get themselves ready for the decibel level at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the Utes have sold out 78 consecutive games going back to the 2010 opener.
"We know the crowd's going to be loud, playing a huge factor into that game," UCLA wide receiver Kam Brown said, "but as a player these are the moments you live for and and work for."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.