Utah’s offense rediscovered running back Zack Moss, and the Utes remembered how to win a football game.

That’s probably not a coincidence.

UCLA’s defense, the worst in the country in stopping the run, cooperated sufficiently Friday night to give the Ute offense something resembling a cure in Utah’s 48-17 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Moss topped the 100-yard mark by early in the third quarter via a 20-yard touchdown run that gave the Utes a 21-point lead. Utah (5-4) comfortably ended a four-game losing streak, producing by far its biggest point total in Pac-12 play this season and moving closer to bowl eligibility after an October skid that “could have spiraled out of control,” said Ute coach Kyle Whittingham. “We had the right mentality tonight; we played with a lot of passion.”

The Utes showed remarkable balance offensively, which is another way of saying they mixed in a lot more running plays than usual. By halftime, Moss had topped his number of carries (12) from last weekend at Oregon, and he kept coming in the third quarter as the Utes posted their first victory since Sept. 22.

Moss finished with a career-high 153 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in an effort that served to open up the rest of Utah’s offense, as the Bruins became preoccupied with him. Quarterback Tyler Huntley’s 327 yards of passing and running helped the Utes top 500 total yards — after they gained only 39 yards in the first quarter.

The Utes’ 272 rushing yards challenged UCLA’s defensive average of 307 yards and matched their production against North Dakota in the season opener. In two seasons, the Utes have scored 100 points and rushed for 632 yards vs. UCLA.

“That was the game plan this week, to get the run game going, because it opens up a lot more things for us,” Moss said.

“What you saw tonight is what this offense is supposed to look like,” Whittingham said.

The Bruins last season gave up 332 rushing yards to ex-Ute star Joe Williams (who attended Friday’s game). And while Moss is far less explosive than Williams, he ran for big chunks of yardage once he got going.

The credit for this angle goes to the Utah fan who last spring tweeted about what may happen if Ute coach Kyle Whittingham fully authorized offensive coordinator Troy Taylor to operate a pass-oriented offense. The fan pictured Whittingham walking into the interview room after concluding a 4-8 season and asking something like, “Is everybody satisfied now?”

That possibility no longer is in play for the Utes, after the offense’s breakout performance. Taylor’s scheme had produced no more than 23 offensive points in any of Utah’s five Pac-12 games in his first season on the job.

“We finally got into a rhythm tonight on offense, and we were in high gear there for a while,” said Whittingham, who gave the game ball to Taylor and his offense.

After each of two previous losses, to Arizona State and Oregon, Whittingham had wondered publicly why Moss carried the ball only 12 and 10 times. The lack of commitment to the running game also has been subject to second-guessing from outsiders, but here’s the thing: Nobody can complain for years that the Utes don’t throw the ball enough, and wonder if Whittingham really would allow Taylor to implement his offense, and then criticize the coaches for losing Utah’s traditional identity.

In any case, Moss got more opportunities Friday against UCLA’s defense. The Bruins (4-5) came to town having allowed 307 yards per game on the ground, after giving up 263 yards to Stanford’s Bryce Love. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate ran for 230 yards on 15 carries vs. the Bruins.

Add it all up, and it seemed likely that Taylor’s game plan would be more run-heavy than before and the Utes would have considerable success. Utah’s rebuilt offensive line had been disappointing, after four of last year’s starters made NFL opening-day rosters, but UCLA’s defensive line was accommodating.

Moss’ emergence came in the second quarter, after Utah’s slow start offensively. His runs of 14, 6 and 10 yards keyed a touchdown drive that ended with Huntley’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Darren Carrington II. Moss totaled 71 yards on 12 carries in the first half as the Utes took a 17-10 lead.

The Utes posted 158 total yards in the second quarter, as the running success opened up the passing game.

That theory proved true on the opening play of the third quarter, as Huntley found a wide-open Troy McCormick along the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. Moss then broke his TD run on the next drive, after picking up a key first down on a third-and-4 play, and the Utes suddenly became unstoppable.

That’s a good look for this team, finally.