This week is the most important week in UCLA recent football history. No. 7 Stanford travels to the Rose Bowl in a game that could change the whole Pac-12 landscape. McCaffrey and company have looked impressive through their first two games of the season against an always tough Kansas State team and the garbage fire that is USC. UCLA on the other hand has had very inconsistent games then unranked Texas A&M, UNLV, and BYU. A win for UCLA and they could show all of their critics that they’re the real deal and can contend for a Pac-12 championship and possibly a playoff spot. The Bruins will have to play their best game of the season if they want to pull off the upset.
Inconsistency has plagued the Bruins during each and every game. Whether it be Josh Rosen and the offense not being able to put up points to help the defense like in the BYU and Texas A&M games or the defense gives up points to keep teams in the game. The team will need to come together and perform as a unit together. Rosen and the rotisserie of running backs that Jim Mora cycles through on a game by game basis will need to crack the code that is the Stanford defense. In last year’s meeting, both teams looked like offensive juggernauts. Combined the teams put up 91 points and Rosen put up one of his best games of the season. Rosen’s success could be attributed to the success of the UCLA running game. Paul Perkins rushed for 106 yards and Bolu Olorunfunmi added 69 yards on only six carries. Stanford came away with a 56-35 but this can help UCLA change the result of the game this time around.
The UCLA defense was absolutely decimated by Christian McCaffrey. In 25 carries he rushed for 243 yards and not one, not two, not three, but four touchdowns. If UCLA has any chance to win this game their top priority must be to limit the McCaffrey. The Bruin defensive line will be the key to the game; if they can reach quarterback, Ryan Burns and pressure him and force Stanford to become more one dimensional then the defense will thrive. UCLA standout lineman, Takkarist McKinley, attended practice but was wearing a non-contact red jersey. Coach Jim Mora was pleased with his progress as he tries to progress from what seemed to be concussion like symptoms. The defense has played well for the most part of the year and I fully expect the run of great play to continue.
The deciding factor of the game will be which defense can hold the other team’s star. If Rosen can have a game of the same magnitude as last year's game then I could easily see UCLA pulling off the upset. A rowdy Rose Bowl full of UCLA faithful will make life difficult for Burns and if Rosen and whichever running back Mora selects succeed then UCLA will show the nation why they’re a serious contender.