The Stanford Cardinal hope to land one final win to get into the Pac-12 North title game against the UCLA Bruins.
Talk about this weekend's matchup with UCLA. What concerns you most about the Bruins, and what do you think the keys to the game will be?
Scott Allen, Rule of Tree: As dominant as our run defense has been, and despite the fact that he only gained 45 yards against the only opponent he's faced with a running defense anywhere near as good as Stanford's, Johnathan Franklin concerns me a bit. Beyond that, I'm concerned about suffering a letdown after the emotional high of the win at Oregon.
As far keys to the game, I think it's important that Stanford gets off to a fast start on the road. USC dug itself a hole at the Rose Bowl last week and never recovered. Stanford has overcome an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers in the last two games to win. At some point, being careless with the ball is going to catch up to you, so I think Stanford needs to win the turnover battle.
Hank Waddles, Go Mighty Card: My biggest concern is that the Tree might plant itself at midfield during the pregame show, thereby infuriating Bruin fans and forcing the band to stay in the stands at halftime. Aside from that, I suppose there are minor concerns about the running game, but it's difficult to muster much trepidation for Johnathan Franklin when you've just watched the Stanford defense throttle Kenjon Barner. I suppose there's also the worry of an emotional letdown, but I think I'd be more worried about that from the UCLA perspective. Sure, the Cardinal just had a huge win to get the Duck off their backs, but that also changed their season, opening up the possibility for one more home game in the Pac-12 Championship game and a trip the Rose Bowl on January 1st. This team has a lot to play for, so I can't imagine they'll be looking past UCLA.
What's your score prediction for Stanford vs. UCLA and why?
Scott Allen, Rule of Tree: Stanford 28, UCLA 14. That might be a generous point total for the Bruins given how the defense played in Autzen, but it would be near impossible for the Cardinal to replicate that performance. Still, I think the defense has another strong showing, while Kevin Hogan, Stepfan Taylor and Co. find success against UCLA's mediocre defense.
Hank Waddles, Go Mighty Card: I've got Stanford 31, UCLA 10. I simply can't imagine it going any other way. The Stanford offense continues to get better each week, and this Saturday they'll be facing a defense that's not nearly as impressive as either Oregon or Oregon State. I know that Johnathan Franklin is having an amazing season and will likely be first-team All-Pac-12, but he hasn't faced a defense like Stanford's. Stanford will win big, then win again next Friday to sweep the doubleheader.