It has been too long since the last UCLA Football game. It has been especially long dwelling on the upset loss at the hands of the Arizona State Sun Devils. And now the Bruins square off against the Stanford Cardinal, who has owned UCLA, winning seven straight against the Bruins, and all three match-ups in the Jim Mora era. The Cardinal are, to some extent, the antithesis of college football in the PAC 12. While most teams are running the up-tempo, spread offense, Stanford has gone old school. Big uglies on both sides of the ball. Three yards and a cloud of dust. A tough, senior quarterback who seems to save his best for UCLA. They even feature the son of the epitome of the old school running back, the guy who always simply flipped the ball to the ref after a touchdown, Barry Sanders.
The Bruins, especially the guys in the trenches, need to have big games. It goes without saying that the UCLA coaching staff needs to come up with a crisp and innovative game plan.
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To me Stanford has always been a preppy school. The Harvard of the West, if you will. This broad stereotype is likely misplaced, but I've never been able to shake it. Maybe because my best friend's sister went there and she was always VERY preppy.
Then you have the band. The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band. With no official uniforms, the highly irreverent group is known as a "scatter band." So they have no "proper" band attire, no proper formation, until they merge to create something that will no doubt piss somebody off (usually the home team when the LSJUMB performs on the road). The 2009 take down of Joe Francis (Southern Cal alum) and his "Girls Gone Wild" brand was an all time classic (look it up on YouTube). The band has been banned by other schools and suspended by the university and is, in fact, serving a one-year suspension this season.
So you have preppy, on one hand, and wildly chaotic and irreverent on the other hand. Reminds me of one of my favorite albums of all time, released in 1983, at the height of "preppy". Back in the day, these guys would dress in mismatched preppy outfits for shows (Bermuda shorts, argyle, and Izods with popped collars) and were highly animated, to say the least. Even though they have nothing to do with the Bay Area (they hail from Milwaukee, Wisconsin), they capture the dichotomy of my image of preppy Stanford with its wildly chaotic marching band. The whole album is great, but I am choosing the single, "To The Kill," because the Bruins will kill or be killed this weekend. Also because the song has several examples of what I like to call controlled cacophony (like the Stanford band), especially the solo about halfway through the song. Love 'em or hate 'em, it's the Violent Femmes!
Let's hope that the Bruins are heading north to (do) the kill(ing) . . .metaphorically speaking of course.
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Fifth year Senior, Kevin Hogan is having a fine season. He's completed 67.5% of his passes for 1,155 yards, nine touchdowns and two picks. Josh Rosen has completed 60.7% of his passes, for 1,244 yards, nine touchdowns and five picks. Stanford is 46th in defensive passing yards allowed, giving up an average of 198 a game, while UCLA is 30th, yielding just 185.2 yards per game in the air. Hogan turns 23 in six days. Rosen turns 19 in February. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER ONE: Which QB, the seasoned vet who owns UCLA in Hogan, or the green yet massively talented true frosh, Rosen, will throw for more yards tomorrow?
Pregame guess number two might not have a distinct measurable, due to the nature of the question, but I think that most here will be able to determine the answer after watching the game. Both Head Coaches, Jim Mora and David Shaw, have been criticized for being too conservative and for having that play-not-to-lose NFL mindset when it comes to things like punting at the opponent's 40 or kicking a field goal instead of going for it on 4th and short. Indeed, these tendencies of both coaches have been discussed on BN over the years. Shaw was an NFL assistant for 9 years before hitching onto Jim Harbaugh's star in 2006 at USD and we all know about Mora's NFL pedigree. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER TWO: Which Coach will call a less conservative game, pull out all the stops, and go for broke? Ya know, like going for two every time, like Oregon used to do. Fake field goals. Fake punts. Going for it on 4th down. Those types of things. FYI, an acceptable answer is "neither."
Stanford has increased its point total in each successive game in which it has played this season. From scoring 6 in a loss to Northwestern in on the road, to 31 at home against a terrible UCF team, to 41 at Southern Cal, 42 at Oregon State, and 55 at home to Arizona. I am setting the over/under on Stanford points scored at 31. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 3: Will the Cardinal score more or less than this? I think that Bruins score 31, so this guess is essentially picking the winner. FYI, the over/under is 55 points.
That's it for this week's Pregame Guesses!