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Pregame Guesses: UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats

Can the UCLA defense stop Arizona’s backup QB, Khalil Tate, from running all over the field?

NCAA Football: UCLA at Stanford
Running down a dream: Can UCLA’s defense stop Arizona’s record setting QB, Khalil Tate?
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to this week’s edition of Pregame Guesses! Happy Friday the 13th. Try not to walk under any ladders or let any black cats cross your path!

After a bye last weekend and a narrow victory over the Colorado Buffaloes the week prior, the UCLA Football team (3-2, 1-1 PAC 12) returns to action this Saturday at 6 p.m. PT, versus the Arizona Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 PAC 12) in Tucson. It is hard to believe that the regular season will be half over after the game this weekend.

Although both teams have identical records, the ‘Cats (at least on offense) are looking better this season than most expected. Picked by many to finish at the bottom of the PAC 12 South, Arizona was led last weekend by backup quarterback Khalil Tate, who had an explosive, record setting performance against the same Buffaloes that UCLA beat two weeks ago. Tate rushed for 327 yards (a record by a QB in FBS) and four touchdowns on just 14 carries (an insane average of 23.4 yards per carry).

Tate’s performance could be called a “dream” for an athlete. If that is the case, then UCLA’s efforts to stop his rushing efforts (or even contain his efforts) tomorrow evening could aptly be called “running down” the dream. And so, without further ago, here is “Running Down a Dream,” by Tom Petty:

I know, I know . . . the play on words is a bit of a stretch. But that song, and the 1989 album upon which it appeared, “Full Moon Fever,” came out right smack dab in the middle of my UCLA experience and, candidly, that album was one of the most popular in my college experience. So, it works on that level and, due to his recent passing, I wanted to pay a bit of a tribute to the recently deceased Mr. Petty. So there.

Staying consistent with the nexus between my musical selection and this game, the first PGG has to focus on Khalil Tate. You might have noticed that I mentioned above that Tate is the Arizona backup QB. After Tate’s performance last week, RichRod would be crazy not to start him, right? Right?!? Last year against UCLA at the Rose Bowl, Tate rushed for 79 yards on 15 carries, a 5.3 average, in a losing effort. UCLA’s rushing defense is second to last in FBS so far this season, a far cry from its performance last season. All of this must be taken into consideration in making your first guess. PREGAME GUESS #1: How many rushing yards will Khalil Tate rack up against the UCLA Bruin defense on Saturday evening?

If Arizona’s advantage is Tate versus the UCLA rushing defense, than UCLA’s advantage is Josh Rosen versus the Arizona passing defense. The ‘Cats are ranked 105th in passing yards allowed, at 256.6 yards allowed per game. They gave up 251 (and 3 TDs) to the Buffs’ Steven Montez last weekend. One would think that Rosen is going to improve on Montez’s numbers. The question is, by how much? PREGAME GUESS #2: Predict Josh Rosen’s passing yards and TD passes tomorrow night against Arizona.

Intangibles. They always affect the game. As it pertains to UCLA v. ‘Zona, there are glaring differences between the Arizona Wildcats and UCLA Bruins in the penalty department. The ‘Cats are tie for ninth on the country for fewest penalties, only committing 22 in 5 games, for 206 penalty yards. That’s any average of slightly more than 4 penalties per game for slightly more than 41 yards per game. The Bruins, conversely, are #122 in FBS, with 49 penalties in 5 games, for 496 penalty yards. That’s an average of almost ten penalties per game, for slightly less than 100 yards per game. Ouch. PREGAME GUESS #3: Predict the number of penalties and penalty yardage for each team (NOTE: I know we did a similar exercise against Colorado two weeks ago but the disparity was so great for this game that I could not ignore it for PGG).

There has always been a lot of fuss made about UCLA’s uniforms, especially under the Adidas deal. Rightly so, because the Bruins’ uniforms are iconic and UCLA should look great. That having been said, I’d happily take a PAC 12 title with the team wearing the epaulet shoulder stripe unis of the Techfit Kevin Prince/Richard Brehaut season over poor play and looking great, as is the case this season under the new Under Armour deal. One thing that hasn’t been talked about with this season’s unis is that UCLA appears to have gone back to gold pants on the road, unlike the white pants with UCLA stripe down the leg dating back to Brett Hundley’s second season. Or is Under Armour simply going for more varied looks and combinations, as is the case with many major college football teams these days? BONUS GUESS: Which will it be tomorrow? Gold pants or white with the stripe?

Thank you for checking out this week’s Pregame Guesses. Please make your selections in the comment section!

And . . . Goooooooooo Bruins!!!