Welcome to the "final" Pregame Guesses of the 2016 UCLA football season. Well, maybe not final. Technically, because of what I believe to be an idiotic rule, UCLA can potentially qualify for a bowl game with a win against U.C. Berkeley and a 5-7 record.
While I recognize the debate for accepting an invite and garnering more practice time, my gut tells me that UCLA should politely decline a bid if it were to finish with a 5-7 record. I sense that Head Coach Jim L. Mora fells differently. This could all be moot, however, if the Bruins cannot conquer the Golden Bears in Strawberry Canyon. Oh, and UCLA will need to do it in wet and rainy conditions.
The music selection for today became an easy choice after Joe’s headline from last Sunday morning. Maybe the geezers and/or the Millenials didn’t get the pun.
Faith No More (get it?) was a late 80s/early 90s band squarely in the Generation X era. Sounding a lot like a Red Hot Chili Peppers knock off, they had one hit and a couple of other songs that received radio and MTV attention. And they are from the Bay Area so there is a connection to the game against Berkeley. Here is Faith No More’s hit, "Epic:"
You want it all, but you can’t have it.
It’s in your face, but you can’t grab it.
Sounds like a soundbite of the 2016 iteration of UCLA football. The gasping fish out of water at the end of the video is an apropos visual for the season as well.
The Golden Bears have the #3 passing offense in the nation, averaging 364.1 yards per game. Senior Davis Webb has come in after the departure of Jared Goff and Berkeley has not missed a beat throwing the ball.
UCLA has faced a similar passing offense in Washington State (#2 passing offense in the nation) and did a nice job of limiting that Wazzou to more than 100 yards less than its average passing the ball. The Washington State game was also played in the rain. Can UCLA’s defense do a similar job against Webb and the Berkeley air attack? PREGAME GUESS #1: True or False? UCLA will hold the Golden Bears to less than 265 yards through the air?
The most interesting match-up IMO will be when UCLA rushes the football. It is truly bad on bad. Berkeley is ranked #127 out of 128 in rushing defense, allowing an average of 290.1 yard per game on the ground to opponents. UCLA is ranked #127 out of 128 in rushing offense, grinding out a paltry 84.3 yards per game.
Something has to give here. I am going to split the difference on the over/under and round up. PREGAME GUESS #2: True or false? UCLA will rush for more than 188 yards against the Golden Bears. BONUS GUESS: Who will lead UCLA in rushing?
Another area where the Bruins will need to take advantage is in the red zone. Due in part to its poor rushing attack and missing Josh Rosen, UCLA is #104 in red zone offense. Fortunately, the Golden Bears are #118 in red zone defense.
The Bruins have had 37 red zone opportunities. Of those, the Bruins have scored 21 touchdowns (11 on the ground and 10 through the air), a 57% average. UCLA has eight field goals from the red zone, meaning that UCLA only scores 78% of the time it has the ball in the red zone.
Berkeley has allowed 52 red zone opportunities. Of those, opponent have scored 41 touchdowns (23 on the grounds and 18 through the air), a 79% average. The Golden Bears have allowed seven field goals from the red zone, meaning that Berkeley opponents score 92% of the time they have the ball in the red zone.
PREGAME GUESS #3: How many red zone opportunities will UCLA have in this game? Of those opportunities, how many will result in touchdowns, how many will result in field goals, and how many will result in goose eggs?
That’s a wrap for Pregame Guesses. Give us your thoughts in the comment section below. And don't forget to predict the score in the Crowd's Line prediction widget.