October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley (17) throws a pass against the California Golden Bears during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT:
Colorado Buffaloes (3-4, 0-4 in the Pac-12 Conference)
PLACE: Rose Bowl
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 2, 4:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports 1
LINE: UCLA by 27
LAST MEETING: UCLA won, 42-14
ALL-TIME SERIES: UCLA leads, 6-2
This is just what this UCLA football team needs after getting beaten by two of the nation’s top six teams, one of them – the 2nd ranked Oregon Ducks – who would be playing Alabama for the BCS championship if the season ended today.
It will be the Bruins’ annual Homecoming game at the Rose Bowl this Saturday, and that should be taken literally as if there’s any football team that can use some home cooking and the love of their fans, it’s Jim Mora’s guys as I’m sure they will be ecstatic to be back among Bruin Nation.
Teams usually schedule opponents who they should beat with relative ease for their homecoming games, but even though Colorado’s Buffaloes from Boulder are winless in the Pac-12 – again – and haven’t had a winning season since 2005, I won’t say that they are no exception.
In other words, UCLA (5-2, 2-2 in the Pac-12) can’t expect to win just by showing up, for these reasons:
1. Led by first-year coach Mike MacIntryre, who won 11 games last year at San Jose State, the Buffaloes’ three wins are two more than last year’s total.
Sure, two of those three victories were over FCS schools Central Arkansas and Charleston Southern but hey, wins are wins.
2. The way things have been going with the Bruins’ offense of late (more on that a little later), they can’t afford to take anyone lightly at this moment.
October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) defends against the California Golden Bears during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
3. For the first time in a while, the Buffaloes have a legitimate offensive threat in wide receiver Paul Richardson.
Richardson originally signed with the Bruins in 2010, but was kicked off the team the first week he was on campus. The junior transferred to Colorado and has shined, his 50 receptions almost doubling the next highest total and his seven touchdown catches being three-and-a-half times the next highest number.
His 921 yards of total offense doubles that of leading rusher Michael Adkins III.
As ome can easily see, UCLA’s defensive secondary needs to key on #6 this Saturday. The way that Ishmael Adams, Randal Goforth, Anthony Jefferson and company have been playing, however, I’m confident that the Bruins won’t have Richardson piling up huge numbers.
Especially if Anthony Barr, Myles Jack, Keenan Graham and the rest of UCLA’s front seven gets into the Buffaloes’ backfield and pressures quarterback Connor Wood silly, not giving him time to throw.
As for the Bruin offense, after averaging 45 points a game the first five weeks, there are some major concerns there, namely with Brett Hundley as the quarterback, to be blunt, is in a sophomore slump.
64 yards passing last week against Oregon and four interceptions in the last two games qualifies people to say such as Hundley is in his worst stretch.
The fact that three of the five offensive linemen were true freshmen was not to blame for the signal caller’s performance against the Ducks, as they did a pretty good job and gave him time to throw more often than not; Hundley’s three sacks were a result of good coverage downfield rather than running for his life.
The problem has been in Hundley’s execution as he has made some flat-out bad throws, which he desperately needs to correct against Colorado.
The situation is ideal for him to do so: a homecoming crowd that will love and support you and an opponent that you are favored to beat.
It will be the perfect time for the offense to throw the ball downfield and stretch the Buffalo defense.
If Jordon James, who still leads UCLA in rushing although he hasn’t played since October 3 due to a high ankle sprain, returns – he has been fully participating in practice this week – that will be a huge boost for the Bruins.
The bottom line in all of this is: Bruin Nation is expecting its team to strongly bounce back at home this week.
And it will be good to see the team do just that, to turn the page from the Stanford and Oregon losses and prepare for the home stretch as the regular season reaches its final month.