GAME NOTES: In their final road game of the season, the 18th-ranked UCLA
Bruins head north to face the Washington Huskies in a Pac-12 Conference duel
at Husky Stadium.
Since losing back-to-back games to Utah and Oregon to kick off the month of
October, the Bruins have been rolling, with wins in three straight. However,
while the results have been positive of late, the Bruins have triumphed by 15
points combined in those three tests. They are now 7-2 overall, including a
4-2 mark against conference foes. That is good enough for third place in the
Pac-12 South standings, a half game back of USC, and a full game behind
Washington had lost three times in four games before visiting Colorado last
Saturday. The Huskies had a pleasant trip to Boulder, coming away with a 38-23
victory to improve to 6-3 on the campaign. The Huskies are not as highly
regarded in the Pac-12 standings as UCLA, sitting in fourth in the cluttered
North Division (2-3) behind Oregon, Stanford and California.
The recent history in this series has favored the Bruins, who have won 12 of
the last 15 meetings to improve to 39-30-2 all-time against the Huskies. In
last season’s meeting in Pasadena, Myles Jack scored four touchdowns to lead
the Bruins to a 31-21 triumph.
In a strange turn of events, UCLA’s matchup with Arizona last weekend did not
feature as much offense as most expected. The Bruins finished with 460 total
yards, but won by a score of just 17-7. UCLA is fifth in the Pac-12 in total
offense (490.7 ypg) and its average scoring output (33.7 ppg) is nearly twice
what it managed against Arizona.
Brett Hundley had only 189 yards and a touchdown through the air in the win,
but he completed 19-of-26 pass attempts and also racked up 131 yards on the
ground to lead the Bruins to victory.
“Brett is a winner,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “He had 189 yards [passing]
which isn’t great, but he was 19 for 26 and that’s still a great completion
percentage. He is a winner and a competitor. Even when it’s not perfect, he
just gets it done.”
Hundley may not be a frontrunner for the Heisman, as some predicted prior to
the season, but he has been getting the job done for UCLA. He has completed an
impressive 71 percent of his passes for 2,245 yards and 15 touchdowns,
compared to only four interceptions. In addition to his work through the air,
he is second on the team in both rushing yards (546) and rushing touchdowns
Of course, the primary player in the running game is Paul Perkins (1,074
yards, six TDs). Perkins and USC’s Javorius Allen are the only two players in
the Pac-12 to have eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. He had to fight for
everything he got against Arizona, finishing with 78 yards and a score on 21
Jordan Payton is another solid playmaker for the unit, as he leads UCLA in
receptions (53), receiving yards (783) and touchdowns (seven). Devin Fuller
is second in receptions (39), while Eldridge Massington (21 receptions, 323
yards, two TDs) and Thomas Duarte (18 receptions, 329 yards, two TDs) are
secondary options behind Payton as well.
Mora has to be pleased with how well his defense played against a typically-
potent Arizona offense. The Bruins held the Wildcats to only 255 total yards
in the win. More efforts like that will be required going forward, as UCLA is
just seventh in the Pac-12 in total defense (414.8 ypg).
Washington has had trouble on offense this season, especially in comparison
to the rest of the teams in the Pac-12. The Huskies are last in the league in
total offense (364.9 ypg) and 10th in scoring (30.8 ppg). They had more
success against Colorado, finishing with 442 yards.
Shaq Thompson, who has been a beast on both sides of the ball this season,
racked up 174 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Thompson may be called
upon to continue being the feature back, with leading rusher Lavon Coleman
(438 yards) still trying to get healthy. Washington coach Chris Petersen seems
fine with Thompson continuing to carry the load.
“He’s a heck of a player and I keep saying, I know he can play three positions
for sure really, really good if not five,” Petersen said. “He’s fun to watch,
I mean he’s fun for all of us as coaches to watch.”
Cyler Miles has only thrown one interception this season, while completing
66.5 percent of his pass attempts, but he has only 1,249 yards and 12
touchdowns. He put forth a solid effort against Colorado, finishing with 206
yards and two scores on 13-of-19 passing.
Jaydon Mickens (38 receptions, 329 yards, two TDs), John Ross (17 receptions,
371 yards, four TDs) and DiAndre Campbell (20 receptions, 195 yards, TD) are
the top receiving threats.
Even though Washington defeated Colorado, it still gave up nearly 500 yards of
total offense to the Buffaloes. It was not the best showing for the Huskies,
who are a middle-of-the-pack defensive squad, ranking sixth in the league in
total (409.8 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (24.4 ppg).
They may not be receiving many style points, but the Bruins are finding ways
to win as the stretch run approaches. Washington is still a tough team and
winning in Seattle is never easy, but if Hundley continues to play well and
the UCLA defense is strong again, expect Mora and company to move to 8-2.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 31, Washington 27