THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT:
Washington Huskies (6-3, 3-3 in the Pac-12 Conference)
PLACE: Rose Bowl
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 15, 6:00 p.m.
LINE: UCLA by 2 1/2
LAST MEETING: Washington won, 24-7, in 2010
ALL-TIME SERIES: UCLA leads, 38-30-2
When UCLA’s football schedule first came out and I saw that the Bruins were going to play the Washington Huskies, the first thought I had was:
“Thank God this game is at home and not in Seattle!”
Three months later, that feeling is stronger, for one simple reason:
These Huskies are not only a very good team, they mirror UCLA in quite a few ways.
First, Steve Sarkisian’s team has beaten and lost to the same conference opponents as Jim Mora’s squad with the exception of Arizona State, which the Huskies were defeated by and the Bruins have not played yet;
U-Dub (as the locals call the school) has beaten Arizona, Colorado and Cal.
So have the Bruins.
U-Dub has lost to Oregon and Stanford.
So have the Bruins.
Second – and more importantly – Washington’s offense is almost exactly like UCLA’s, featuring veteran performers at the skill positions that have better overall numbers than the Bruins’ skill players.
Keith Price’s stats at quarterback are very similar to Brett Hundley‘s; both have completed at least 65% of their attempts with 18 touchdown passes and have thrown for over 2,200 yards.
Though Hundley has the edge in rushing – he leads the team in that category because of the injuries to guys like Jordon James and Steven Manfro – Price has thrown half as many interceptions (four) as the Bruin signal caller.
And he’s a senior who’s been in the system longer than Hundley, someone with experience; why Price is not mentioned in the NFL as one of the top QBs in the draft is beyond me.
While it’s quite true that Price is very formidable, the player on offense that the Bruins need to worry about the most is their running back, Bishop Sankey.
The nation’s third leading rusher (and second in the Pac-12 to Arizona’s KaDeem Carey) leads the team with 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging 5.9 yards a pop.
To state the obvious, Anthony Barr, Jordan Zumwalt, Myles Jack (more on him in a bit), Keenan Graham, Cassius Marsh and the rest of UCLA’s front seven will have their hands just as full with Sankey as they did with Carey, plus they will have Price’s arm - which is better than Arizona’s B.J. Denker’s – to deal with.
Jaydon Mickens and Kevin Smith have benefitted from Price’s throws, Mickens’ 50 receptions leading the Huskies while Smith has 35 catches, both of them combining for seven TDs.
Meanwhile for the 13th-ranked Bruins (7-2, 4-2 in the Pac-12), I get the feeling that although Mora has insisted that he will remain a linebacker, Jack will be carrying the ball some against the Huskies as you don’t ignore 120 yards on six carries with a 66-yard touchdown run, which is what the freshman had against Arizona.
In other words, with Manfro out and Damien Thigpen a game-time decision because of his ankle, Jack will be needed – but hopefully not for more than five carries or so as his bigger value is on defense.
I dearly hope to see Malcolm Jones on the field on third and short yardage situations as he has been good at getting those first down runs.
Hau’oli Kikaha leads the Husky defense with six sacks and eight tackles for loss; he’s one guy among many that UCLA needs to watch out for.
Defensive backs Sean Parker and Marcus Peters have seven interceptions between them for U-Dub; Hundley and the Bruin offense need to be worried about them, too.
Besides the Friday Night Lights that these Bruins will be playing under for the first time at the Rose Bowl, a “Black Out” will also be in effect as not only will the team be wearing all-black uniforms against Washington, Bruin Nation is also strongly encouraged to wear black in the stands.
If that produces a good effect on the team and helps them to win and remain in the race for the Pac-12 South title, then I’m all for it.