1) This one is dedicated to a former colleague of mine at the Daily Bruin, Hanson Wang. He wrote a great feature on the Bruins’ offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, which inspired me to talk about UCLA’s offensive explosiveness on the field.
None of previous teams could touch what the maestro has done this season for the Bruins. With junior quarterback Josh Rosen at the helm, UCLA has averaged 527.3 yards per game this season.
Even during Jim Mora’s first few seasons, with a talented tosser in Brett Hundley and above-average running back Paul Perkins, the offense was never this dominant.
Fisch may have lost one of his biggest targets in Caleb Wilson, but he’s still found a keep his well-oiled machine running. The Bruins weren’t very efficient last week against Arizona, but it seems that the rest of the season prior to that game made up for it.
UCLA Offense’s Average Yards Per Game Under Mora
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2) UCLA doesn’t play Oregon on an annual basis, which may be a good thing. If Stanford is considered the Bruins’ kryptonite, the Ducks are seemingly the next worst thing – I guess that would be magic or lead in relation to Superman.
Clearly Oregon’s offense posed a major threat when Marcus Mariota was in Eugene, and even one season when he wasn’t. In the four matchups against the Ducks between 2010 and 2014, the Bruins allowed an average of 544 total yards.
That’s even more than they’re averaging this season, which 523 yards overall – ranked fourth-worst in the nation.
Opponent’s rushing attacks were the issues in the previous six games. In those bouts, UCLA allowed an average of 313 rushing yards per game, second worst in the nation.
How will Oregon fare in the Rose Bowl?
Well, considering that the Ducks average 244.6 rushing yards a game, they could give the Bruins a rough time.
Oregon has Royce Freeman, the team’s main runner. But the team also has Kani Benoit and Tony Brooks-James, who have each racked up more than 200 yards this year on the ground.
It will be yet another formidable test for the UCLA defense, which has had maybe one solid game thus far – against Colorado.
3) Darren Andrews has been overlooked as a standout receiver this year. Through the first three games of the year, he was ranked in the top five in receiving yards, thanks in part to the free-flinging Rosen.
He still ranks within the top 30, but he’s dropped down a few weeks. He currently has 44 receptions with 590 yards.
Arizona’s defensive backs limited Andrews to just 37 yards last week, the wideout’s worst performance this year. It makes sense, as the Bruins’ offense was inefficient altogether.
Oregon allows just 246 yards per game in the air, but Rosen has made mince meat of most defenses this year. UCLA’s running game is still a question mark, so expect the passing game to remain option No. 1 – and option No. 2 and No. 3.
Andrews will get his fair share Saturday.
4) UCLA is one school across in the nation with a high pedigree in just about any sport. Oregon is the same way in football.
The Ducks rarely lose conference games altogether. But much like the Bruins, they struggled in 2016 with a 2-7 conference record.
If last season was eliminated from memory, Oregon would seem as consistent as Stanford and USC in the sport. Prior to 2016, the Ducks didn’t lose more than two conference games in a single season for nearly 10 years.
And again, with 2016 as an exception, they haven’t lost three straight conference games since 2007.
The Bruins can change that Saturday.
5) Steven Flintoft doesn’t get enough credit. The seasoned punter has pinned opponents deep inside their own territory for the majority of the season.
But now he’s getting the recognition he deserves. Flintoft was put on the watch list for the Ray Guy Award earlier this week.
At least one UCLA player could receive an award this season, since Rosen as the Heisman is likely out of the picture, unless the Bruins turn their season around.
6) Caleb Wilson should be running into the end zone after catching critical passes, but instead he’s rolling around Westwood in a speedy
Despite being out for a few weeks, he’s still been recognized as one of the nation’s better players, as he deserves.
If only he could have played the entire season, eh could have been deemed an All-American by the end of the year. He still ranks 46th in the nation in receiving yards, and he didn’t even play in the last game.
7) Extra Point- This will be short and sweet. It relates to No. 4 a little bit.
Oregon was outscored by 65 points in its previous two bouts. Last year, the Ducks were outscored by 67 points in back-to-back games.
It’s been more than 25 years since they lost games by a similar margin. In 1985, Oregon lost to Nebraska 63-0 and to Washington 19-13 in consecutive games.
If UCLA can claim a victory by 28, it could help break that record.