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Pregame Guesses: UCLA Bruins v. Colorado Buffaloes

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Rushing defense, penalties, and turnovers are ruining what is likely Josh Rosen's last season in Westwood.

UCLA's Head Coach Jim Mora
UCLA Football's Head Coach Jim Mora
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Week 5 of Bruins Nation’s Pregame Guesses. Coming off another beat down at the hands of what appeared to be a vulnerable Stanford Cardinal team, Bruin fans are increasingly questioning the direction of the UCLA football program. UCLA is 2-2 (and probably should be 1-3), and returns to the Rose Bowl tomorrow night for a PAC 12 After Dark game against the Colorado Buffaloes.

The Buffs are 3-1, losing only to undefeated PAC 12 North favorites Washington on the road last weekend, 37-10. Washington actually has a defense, allowing only 11.8 points per game (10th of 129 in FBS), as opposed to UCLA allowing over 43 points per game (124th), so I expect a much better performance out of the Buffs tomorrow night.

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At halftime of the Texas A&M game, I thought that I had my PGG song picked out for the following week. A once-in-a-lifetime comeback by UCLA, led by Josh Rosen, with a big assist to terrible play-calling by Noel Mazzone, iced my musical selection for what I had hoped would be the foreseeable future. Didn’t happen. As will be borne out with some of the statistics discussed below, UCLA football is bad at everything except passing the ball (I highlight rushing defense, penalties, and turnovers today, all of which are putrid this season).

While there is blame to be passed around, the "buck stops" at the leader of the program, Head Coach Jim Mora. I really wanted this guy to be savior of UCLA football, but a new football base of operations and bringing the UCLA stripe back do not cut it when you waste a generational talent in Josh Rosen by failing at so many other aspects of the game.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the musical selection for this week, Beck’s "Loser."

No explanation necessary. Onto the Guesses . . .

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Statistically, UCLA has the worst rushing defense in the nation, sitting dead last in rushing yards against, allowing an abysmal average of 307.5 yards per game on the ground. This is a total fail, injuries notwithstanding. Colorado is 88th in FBS in rushing, grinding out only 141.5 yards per game on the ground. The Buffs do not have a running back like Stanford’s Bryce Love, who has the most yards in FBS and who torched UCLA for 263 yards. They do, however, have Phillip Lindsay, a senior with 446 yards on the season and a 5.0 yards per carry average. IMO, he is more like Hawai’i’s Diocemy Saint Juste (#5 in the country in rushing yards), who had 154 yards against the Bruins. With sophomore Quarterback Steven Montez having an up and down season so far (6 TDs, 6 INTs), I expect Colorado to pound the rock with Lindsay. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 1: How many rushing yards will Lindsay have against the Bruins? He averages 111.5 yards per game this season.

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Another area where UCLA has been bad is turnovers. While Colorado is even in turnover margin, with eight turnovers gained and eight turnovers lost, the Bruins are tied for #113 in the country, with a turnover margin of -5 (5 turnovers gained and ten turnovers lost). This team cannot afford to lose the turnover battle, as we saw against Memphis. Who will win the turnover battle tomorrow night? PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 2: Guess the number of times UCLA turns over the ball and the number of times Colorado turns it over, breaking down the number of interceptions and fumbles for each.

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Continuing a habit of being one of the most penalized teams in the nation, UCLA is yet again amongst the leaders in FBS for the total number of penalties on the season with 40 through four games (good for 126th of 129) and penalty yards, with 370 (127th). Oh, and the Bruins are dead last in first downs allowed due to penalties, with a whopping seventeen penalties resulting in first downs. These numbers are atrocious, and have never improved during the Jim Mora era. Mora has completely failed to keep UCLA playing disciplined football in his 5 and 1/3 seasons in Westwood. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 3: Guess the number of penalties that UCLA will incur against Colorado, as well as the number of yards gained by Colorado due to penalties.

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BONUS GUESS: As usual, I want you to take a stab at the attendance at the Rose Bowl. School is back in session but the team does not appear to be heading in a positive direction, especially on defense. This week is also a "white out" (you know, like "surrender whites"). Why Dan Guerrero and the Morgan Center decided to choose our away colors at home is beyond me. The scuttlebutt is that many fans will intentionally wear blue to show their displeasure with the program. Choose one of the four that you believe will best describe the crowd tomorrow night: (1) white out successful and the stands appear to be almost totally white on TV; (2) lots of white but also lots of blue (or other colors visible) on television; (3) no evidence that there was a coordinated white out as the stands look like a typical UCLA home game; (4) no evidence that there was a coordinated white out or even an enticing football game as there are large swaths of empty seats.

Another PGG is in the books. I wish that it was more positive, but IMO, UCLA, by is wasting the talents of Josh Rosen, a once in a generation talent.

Go Bruins.