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Preview: Stanford takes on UCLA

Stanford will look to win their ninth game in a row against UCLA

UCLA v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I have lived in Pasadena my entire life; born at the local hospital and never moved. I live just five minutes from the Rose Bowl. My dad went to UCLA law school, and we even had UCLA season tickets at one point. Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel’s son even went to my middle school. I’ve grown up living in UCLA territory and seen UCLA fans be optimistic for the Stanford game every year, but going into Saturday, I am confident Stanford will win their ninth in a row versus the Bruins.

UCLA likes to throw the ball a lot, and Stanford should be ready for the challenge. Josh Rosen is a true sophomore and is very good, but he struggles under pressure. Against Texas A&M, Rosen threw three interceptions, and he makes very bad decisions when rushed. With Solomon Thomas leading the way, Stanford’s defensive line should pressure Rosen, and Stanford’s stout secondary will take advantage. Furthermore, Stanford’s secondary will shut down UCLA receivers. UCLA lost four of its top five pass catchers and lacks the experience out wide. UCLA has no star receiver, and after stopping Juju Smith-Schuster, no receiver should be a challenge for Stanford’s corners. UCLA will utilize their passing game, but Stanford will be up for the task.

UCLA had to replace former star Paul Perkins heading into 2016. Against Stanford, UCLA will most likely use a running back by committee. Soso Jamabo was a highly touted running back out of high school and ran for 181 yards in his first two college starts. With Jamabo out versus BYU, Jalen Starks, who didn’t play against Texas A&M and UNLV, took the lead, and he struggled. Starks only ran for 35 yards, and UCLA only gained a total of fifty as a team. Jamabo and Starks will both most likely be ready come Saturday. UCLA hasn’t shined at running back yet all year, and if BYU was able to shut down the UCLA rushing attack, Stanford will certainly be able to as well.

The UCLA defense was flat out dominant last week in the BYU win. They held the Cougars to 23 rushing yards and made a statement heading into Stanford, but it very well could’ve been a fluke; UCLA had allowed at least 175 rushing yards in the two games prior. Over the offseason, UCLA shifted from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense in order to stop power running teams. UCLA has definitely improved their rush defense from last year. On Saturday, Christian McCaffrey and co won’t run crazy but will still have a solid outing. Meanwhile, the UCLA pass defense is pretty strong. They force interceptions and can limit passing yards. However as usual, Stanford will not be reliant on Ryan Burns to have a big game and throw for big yards. The UCLA pass defense will not be a big factor on Saturday night.

Stanford is favored by 2.5 points. I don’t see why. It should be higher. UCLA respectably lost to Texas A&M and barely beat BYU. So far, UCLA hasn’t showed that they’re a top PAC-12 team this year. Meanwhile, Stanford is a PAC-12 powerhouse. Despite the improved UCLA rush defense, Christian McCaffrey will only be contained at best. Stanford’s defense is stronger this year and will hold the UCLA offense. Prediction: Stanford 28. UCLA 14.

Be sure to tune in this Saturday at 5 PM on ABC.

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