Here are the things that UCLA has working in their favor, and none should be overlooked:
1) On the road: UCLA has played very well on the road. Well, until recently. Cal was an embarrassment, but we have never played well up in Berkeley. Autzen is a tough place to play, no if’s about it, but so was Austin,
so was Houston, and so was Tennessee. This team has experience in hostile environments, and, if I may be so bold, takes a lot of energy from them. When we are prognosticated to have almost no chance, on the road in a tough environment, this team rarely ever falls flat.
2) Oregon Hoopla: All the hoopla is directly focused at Oregon, with only disparaging remarks coming our way. If this doesn’t inspire any self-respecting, testosterone fueled male on the field or off, I don’t know what else will. The national TV, the eyes of the country are firmly focused on Oregon, taking all the pressure off us. If we can capitalize on this, let Oregon bask in their attention and hopefully come out unfocused or maybe take them out of their focus, we have a much better shot.
3) Some horsepower: We have the horses. Yes I know, it’s in vogue to knock some of the problem areas, and many of these complaints are legitimate. It’s the second start for a quarterback, our WRs are under-performing, and our offensive line has taken a significant hit in the pass protection department. However, we can still run the ball very well, we have excellent backs in JetSki, Coleman, and Jones, we have a talented, if unproven, passer in Richard Brehaut, and we have a solid linebacking corps. If the rest of the role players can step up and produce (i’m looking at you David Carter, Andrew Abbott, Dalton Hilliard, Harkey/Fauria, and ALL of our WR, we can play the type of defense we played against Texas and Houston. We can take spread teams off their game, we just need to execute and EVERYONE needs to come to play.
4) Scheme, scheme, scheme: We need a good, solid scheme from both Chow and Bullogh. Easier said than done, I know, but Bullogh had an excellent gameplan against Texas, and the kids executed. Is Texas’ offense comparable to Oregon? Maybe not, but it’s any given
sunday saturday thursday. Any team can come out and play.
5) Game management from Richard Brehaut: We need a champion performance from Brehaut. Not world-beating, but a solid, smart, and effective game. We need him to hit receivers in stride, make the right reads in the zone game, and we need him to execute his butt off. If he can lead this team effectively and keep the duck offense off the field, we have a much better chance.
6) The turnover battle: Finally, we need to win the turnover battle. This will not be easy. The ducks are a turnover-causing machine. We need to hold on to the football, and we need a few timely picks or a fumble recovery or two. Momentum in this game will be critical. We can have as much as we need, and Oregon can drive the field in 60 seconds and take it all away. We need to guard it like a small, defenseless baby/puppy/seal. Because if we let it get away, the crowd at Autzen and the Oregon offense will be insurmountable. But we have the ballhawks, gentlepeople. We have Rahim, we have Akeem, and we have Westgate, all who have proven that they can take the ball away. We need our offense to step up and protect the football. Ski knows this, Brehaut knows this, we know it.
These factors, if they can tip our way, can be cause for optimism. This game CAN be won. Do we have the fortitude as a team? Do we have the ability to go into Autzen and win? We sure do. It will not, by any stretch of even the most colorful imagination, be easy. But in this world, what ever is?