Some people expect us to be crushed in the big game on Saturday, particularly given the pathetic perfomance of our team, especially on offense the last three years under Rick. We have struggled to score and have even shot ourselves in the foot with playing not to lose and bonehead turnovers. Yes, if we repeat those efforts, or if Prince plays like he did against Texas or Utah, we are going to get skunked.
Call me a Pollyanna, but I am more optimistic. I expect the defense to play well in a rivalry game and, for once, I think the offense will do well. I believe statistics against common opponents bear that out. Our defense has actually played better than theirs and our offense should be able to score much easier than before. More after the jump.
Yes, the Trojans beat Oregon and Notre Dame, in part because of a fluke fumble recovery touchdown and a 14 point swing. They played Stanford tough only to lose in overtime. And their loss to ASU was on the road and early in the season. I expect them to play at a high level.
Yes, we have pretty much stunk on the road, most recently in the snow against Utah, but our offense is markedly improved. But I think our problems on the road are mental, not physical. For example, I think we matched up against Stanford well, as proven by our opening drive where we moved with ease only to self-destruct after first and goal with incredibly stupid play calling. It was all downhill from there.
Even better, to me this is more a home game than a road game. Best of all we are playing against SUC's defense which, at least against common opponents is even worse than ours. We gave up about 28.7 points a game to the six common opponents. SUC gave up 30. Yes, 30. We can score against this team, a lot.
As for offense, SUC has averaged about 35 points a game to our 24 against common opponents, but again our defense is a little better than theirs, at least statistically, about 4%. Factoring that in narrows the "gap" to single digits.
How do you make up that difference? Hopefully, turnovers. Against the common six, we are +1 and SUC is -4. That is significant, a difference of five turnovers over six games. If we win that battle by one, the game is even-Steven statistically.
Of course, this is a biased analysis. Someone could argue their offense is 12 points better, our defense is two points better, and they're a net ten points better. Duh, but even then that's one defensive touchdown away from a real game that we should be in all the way.
Now for my ace in the hole. I don't think SUC can stop our running game, and with play action and our tall receivers, I don't think SUC can stop our passing. We just have to play with confidence, and above all, to win. We need to score in the thirties to win, and we need to coach like it, wide open, but so does SUC, or they will lose.
With blue and gold colored glasses, I'm calling it UCLA 35 and SUC 32. Who knows, we might even crush them. It's about time.
GO BRUINS! BEAT SUC!