clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pregame Guesses: UCLA Bruin Football vs. Colorado Buffaloes

Can UCLA's defense slow down Colorado's balanced offense? Will UCLA have a rushing game or will Mike Fafaul continue to be asked to carry the UCLA offense on his back? Predict the future in today's Pregame Guesses.

UCLA's senior quarterback, Mike Fafaul
UCLA's senior quarterback, Mike Fafaul
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to this Wednesday edition of Pregame Guesses, on the eve of the Bruins’ Thursday night match-up against the #15 Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder, CO. Thursday night games are becoming more and more commonplace on UCLA’s schedule. This contest figures to be one of the toughest, as Colorado is 6-2 overall, and 4-1 in the PAC 12, leading the South Division.

Moreover, in the last two seasons, UCLA teams have had trouble against the Buffs, even though the Buffs went 2-10 (0-9 PAC 12) in 2014 and 4-9 (1-8 in PAC 12) last season and were the doormats of the PAC 12 South.

In 2014, UCLA squeeked by Colorado in double overtime, 40-37, in Boulder. Brett Hundley ran a designed QB draw and waltzed in to the end zone untouched for the game winning score.

In 2015 in Pasadena, the Bruins blew a 21-3 lead and were trailing early in the 4th quarter, 31-28. UCLA responded with a quick drive, going 69 yards in three plays, capped off by a Soso Jamabo two yard TD run, resulting in the final score of UCLA 35, Colorado 31.

The tables are turned this season, with Colorado leading the PAC 12 South, and UCLA only kept out of the cellar by the woeful Arizona Wildcats, who are winless in conference play. Some smack talk from excited Buffs has already crept into BN, of all places in the comments section of the article on UCLA vs. Colorado Women’s Soccer.

* * * *

The last two weeks have featured songs exemplifying the low position in which UCLA football currently finds itself. A similar third song in a row would seem to me to be laying it on a bit thick.

Instead of being angry or sad, I think most Bruins have accepted the fact that 2016 UCLA football is what it is. Especially with yesterday’s news regarding the extent of Josh Rosen’s injury, UCLA fans are hoping for a win against Southern Cal and looking toward 2017. The Bruins are a team that will struggle to make a bowl game for the first time in the Jim L. Mora era, and will be challenged in all of their remaining games, including Oregon State.

With that in mind, I am selecting an instrumental song this week, sans lyrics. Interpret the tune any way you want. Not one of their hits, this "deep cut" is a beautiful piece of work from one of the iconic alternative bands of the 1980s, The Smiths. Check out "The Draize Train."

Without Morrissey’s lyrics, this song is ALL Johnny Marr, who wrote the music and played guitar. A big assist to bassist Andy Rourke. Before the days of YouTube, this track was a hard find, appearing only as a B-side on The Smith's 1986 12" single, "Panic." A live version of the track is on the album, "Rank," but IMHO it does not hold a candle to the studio version.

Hope you enjoyed (or are enjoying) the track.

* * * *

As pointed out by Anteaters&Bruins in BN's preview of the Colorado offense, the Buffs are very balanced on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, Colorado is 19th in the nation in total offense, averaging 216 yards per game on the ground (31st in the nation) and 279.8 yards in the air (30th in the nation). That's over 480 yards per game.

UCLA's defense is 37th in total defense, allowing only 368 yards per game, approximately 110 yards less than Colorado's average. The Bruins allow 173 yards per game on the ground (68th in the nation) and 195.8 yards per game through the air (24th in the nation). The fact that Utah ran wild on UCLA really dropped the Bruins in the rushing defense category.

PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 1: Assess how the UCLA defense will perform against the Buffs by predicting the total yards the Bruins will allow, and the breakdown of such yardage between rushing yards and passing yards.

* * * *

Will UCLA's rushing offense get back on track in Boulder? Coach Mora & Company have had 11 days to devise a game plan for UCLA's rushing attach against Colorado. The UCLA coaching staff's response to Coach Mora's stated plan to fix the running game after Washington State turned out to be a complete abandonment of the run against Utah. Nice "fix" there.

UCLA has rushed for less than 100 yards combined in its three game losing streak, with46 rushing yards against Utah, 43 rushing yards against Washington State, and -1 rushing yards against Arizona State. Colorado's rushing defense is #29 in the nation, right behind UCLA's last opponent, Utah. The Buffs allow only 129.1 yards per game on the ground. This is not a good match-up for the Bruins.

PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 2: How many yards will UCLA rush for against Colorado? Obviously your answer depends a lot on whether you think that the UCLA coaching staff actually devised a new plan for Colorado, or will simply throw the ball all over this place like they did against Utah, and let the chips fall where they lie.

* * * *

Without a ground game, there is no safety net for UCLA back-up quarterback, Mike Fafaul, who has been asked (unfairly in my opinion) to carry the entire offense on his back. As a result, Fafaul threw 70 passes against Utah, completing 40 for 464 yards and five touchdowns. The problem is that four of those passes ended up in the hands of the Utah defense. In three games, Fafaul has eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Colorado is very good against the pass, ranked #14 in passing yards allowed (178.6 yards per game). The Buffs are also outstanding in scoring defense, #13 in the nation, allowing an average of 18.1 points per game. This is also not a good match-up for UCLA.

PREGAME GUESS NUMBER 3: Predict Mike Fafaul's stats, including passing yardage, passing touchdowns, and interceptions.

* * * *

And, finally, we have the weekly Crowd's Line prediction widget where you can predict the final score of the game.

* * * *

Make your guesses in the comment section below and chime in with any additional thoughts that you might have.

Go Bruins!