UCLA travels to rainy Seattle to take on the ever-improving Washington Huskies in a virtual must-win for the Bruins. The Bruins last played 12 days ago against Oregon State and upset the Beavers 17-14, improving UCLA’s record to 4-5 and 2-3 in Pac-10 play. The Bruins are still fighting to become Bowl eligible and need two wins in their last three games to reach that magical number of “6” and play in a post-season game.
REVIEW / PREVIEW:
Review: The Bruins enjoyed an extra week off to get healthy and bask in the glory of their last-second win against Oregon State in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, the Huskies also had an extra week to savor the bitterness of a “butt-whuppin” at the hands of the Oregon Ducks – which is a common occurrence for most every opponent of the No. 1 Ducks.
Preview: It will be raining in Seattle … SHOCKER! There is a 60 percent chance of rain at game time but that really doesn’t matter because it has been raining for 40 days and 40 nights already. So, maybe that is an exaggeration but the reality is that the rain will play a big part in this game and will give the advantage to the Bruins, the team from sunny SoCal.
The Bruins are built around the rushing attack, understatement of the year. UCLA rushes the ball 83 percent of the time and averages 194 yards per game. Even though there are Pop Warner Jr. Pee Wee football teams that are more potent in the passing game than the Bruins and everyone and their mother knows UCLA is going to rush the ball with Johnathan Franklin and Derrick Coleman, teams still struggle to stop them. With a sloppy track due to the rain and as the Bruins face a weak Huskies’ rush defense, look for the Bruins to rush 90 percent of the time and put up some gaudy numbers.
On the flip side of the ball, the Bruins have been inconsistent at best on defense. One week they will shut down and dominate a highly touted Texas offense or Houston quarterback, and then follow-up the performance with three quarters of lackadaisical play against an anemic Washington State offense. It is a question of which defense will show up from week to week. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with ability because the Bruins have talent on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, it is a question of intensity and discipline.
The defense will need to be on point because they are going against Jake Locker. Yes, he has been hurt more games than not this year. Yes, he is inconsistent – or should we label that as “streaky” – and is “slightly” overrated – Mel Kiper, draft expert, said he would be picked No. 1 in the 2011 NFL Draft. But no matter how average Locker’s year has been, he still has a strong enough arm to make every throw in the book and single-handedly lead the Huskies to victory (just ask the team from the other side of town).
The Bruins must be the aggressors on offense with the running attack and on the defensive side of the ball by putting pressure on Locker. If the Bruins are going to win this game, it will be because their defense forced Locker to move around the pocket and pick himself up off the field turf.
Both teams are playing for Bowl eligibility and even though the Bruins have a little wiggle room, one game, they don’t want to be starring at the team from the other side of town in a must-win situation. The Bruins need to win the games they should win, but there is still a question whether or not this is a game they should win.
WHERE THE TEAMS RANK IN THE NCAA
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“We’ve been able to be successful without much in the way of throwing the ball and we’ll see if we can do it again. But usually wet doesn’t mean you can’t throw, it just means you’ve got to keep the ball dry. But the ability to run the ball becomes more important, no question.” – Rick Neuheisel, UCLA's head coach.
MAKE ME LOOK SMART:
You want to look like you know what you’re talking about? Then pull this nugget out just before the ref flips the coin to decide who kicks and who receives.
“UCLA will play three non-Saturday games this season - Oct. 21 at Oregon, Nov. 18 at Washington and Nov. 26 at Arizona State. The last time the Bruins played a regular-season non-Saturday game, prior to this year, was Friday, Nov. 28, 2008 at Arizona State. What's worse is that the Bruins haven’t won a Thursday night game since 1993! Then again, they’ve only played two."
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UCLA vs. Washington (Seattle) 5:00 p.m. Thursday Kickoff