Greetings! UCLA starts PAC 12 play tomorrow, with UCLA and Head Coach Jim Mora trying to get the Stanford monkey off their collective backs. UCLA has not beaten Stanford since October 18, 2008, Rick Neuheisel’s first season. To put that in perspective, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States 17 days later. That’s a loooong time, folks.
No one did well in last week’s Pregame Guesses. Most predicted that Taysom Hill would exceed his 86 yard average and he didn’t come close, rushing for -7 yards on 10 carries. Nobody predicted that UCLA would only find the red zone twice, and only come away with one touchdown in its red zone opportunities.
Some picked that Josh Rosen would complete more than 25 passes (he completed 26) and some picked that Jordan Lasley or Darren Andrews would lead UCLA in receptions (they tied for the team lead with four). A few got both of the latter two questions correct, but last I checked, 50% is not a passing grade. As such, I am declaring no winner of PGG for last week.
In a season and 1⁄4 of PGG, I have yet to feature a song from one of my favorite bands of the 21st century. I scrolled through my playlist and checked out some lyrics online to see if I could find a match from this band for this critical game. It’s not a perfect match, but I am going with the beautiful and melodic "Three Seed" from the Silversun Pickups off of their 2006 debut album, Carnavas:
Lead singer, Brian Aubert is on record that the song is about "repeating patterns" and one could say that there has been a definite "pattern" in the recent past between the Bruins and the Cardinal. Plus, the band is from L.A.’s Silver Lake community (I like featuring L.A. bands if possible in PGG); the bass line is deep and smooth; and I love the "cool like the ocean" lyrics—they remind me of quick trips to Palisades to body surf during south swells in the summertime.
But enough about velvety bass lines and long past UCLA summers . . . on to the guesses!
Despite AnteatersandBruins excellent article positing that Stanford is more than just Christian McCaffrey, UCLA’s number one job tomorrow will be to stop McCaffery and make quarterback Ryan Burns beat them. Let’s talk about McCaffrey first.
IMHO, he should have a Heisman Trophy on his mantle already but, as is often the case, the award went to the best team’s top player, Alabama’s Derrick Henry, not necessarily the best player in the country.
This season, McCaffrey has been very solid through two games: 53 carries for 298 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and 10 catches for 106 yards and one touchdown receiving. And that does not include 50 yards on two kick returns and 16 yards on two punt returns. That’s 470 all-purpose yards through two games, a 235 yard average.
On the other side of the coin, the UCLA run defense looked much better last week with the return of some of the ailing defensive front, Jayon Brown’s stellar performance, and some of the best tackling I have seen from a UCLA defense in years.
PREGAME GUESS #1: Can the Bruins limit McCaffrey? The junior running back has exceeded 200 all-purpose yards in his last eight games. True or false: Will McCaffrey make it nine in-a-row and exceed 200 all-purpose yards tomorrow?
Stanford will be playing its first road game of the season with a quarterback, Ryan Burns, who has only played in three games in his career, all at the Farm. He threw one pass in 2014 in a 45-0 blowout against UC Davis and has started both games this season, going 14-18 for 156 yards and a touchdown against Kansas State and 8 of 14 for 102 yards with a touchdown and a pick against Southern Cal. Remember, 10 of those 24 completions were to McCaffrey.
UCLA’s secondary has lived up to the pre-season hype so far this season, but it might be the linebacking corps that is tested while covering McCaffrey out of the backfield. Can the Bruin defense get it done against a quarterback who has not taken a snap on the road? PREGAME GUESS #2: With a margin of error of five yards, how many passing yards will Burns register against the UCLA defense?
The UCLA running game has been "interesting" this season (I could use some other adjectives, but I’ll settle for that one). Soso Jamabo started the first two games and played well, but did not see action against BYU. Nate Starks did not play in the first two games, but saw extensive action against BYU. Starks didn’t look that great against BYU and Jamabo is better at sweeps than running between the tackles.
Bolu Olorunfunmi was the #2 back in all three games and Jalen Starks also saw action in all three games. Brandon Stephens has been in the mix as well.
What’s the deal? Do we have a running back by committee? Have there been unannounced suspensions?
Now that the Bruins have switched to a more "pro-style" (or as Coach Mora says, "don’t call it "pro-style, it’s multiple") offense, the Bruins could use a little more stability in the backfield, especially against the Cardinal’s defensive front. PREGAME GUESS #3: How many UCLA running backs will get more than six carries tomorrow?
I have to do the attendance bonus guess again. This is such a critical game. Joe sounded the bell for a huge turnout earlier this week. School is back in session. And this might be the biggest game of Jim Mora’s career (NickPope19 made a great case in his FanPost). The crowd will need to be big and LOUD. The fans need to rattle Ryan Burns. BONUS GUESS: What will be the attendance at the Rose Bowl tomorrow? (FYI, capacity for football is 92,542).
And, finally, we have this week's Crowd's Line widget which lets you predict the final score.
Another Pregame Guesses is in the books. Now it is up to you to choose wisely in the comment section below!
Go Bruins!!! Chop down the Tree!!!