When UCLA went into college station to face off against Texas A&M, one team was clearly ready for the game and one team was not. After A&M toppled the Bruins, BYU was able to give them problems as well using the same blue print. So what is the key for Stanford in this game?
The two big factors on the defensive side are a very good defensive line in front of a fast, down hill group of linebackers and at least one really good corner. On offense all it took was solid quarterback play that was elevated by great talent around that position.
How to make it work
Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett on the line with Shaan Washington at linebacker brought pressure on almost every single passing play against Josh Rosen. They were in his face causing him to throw off the mark numerous times as well as forcing an interception. Late in the fourth quarter Rosen would leave the pocket just because he didn't trust his protection, or lack there of, which just took away half the field for the defense.
When he did get some time in the pocket, star corner Nick Harvey was locked up on a receiver which allowed safeties to roll or cheat over to one side of the field. This wasn't exactly an elite group to begin with, and when the star corner is doing his job that gives the rest of the secondary more freedom to compress the field for the quarterback.
When UCLA went to the ground with Soso Jamabo they did have success bouncing the run out to the perimeter on pitches and stretch runs. The problem there for the Bruins was when they got to the red zone and everything was compressed their run game really struggled for the majority of the game.
Stanford can do all of these things and they have a better secondary as well. They will be getting to the quarterback and they proved against USC that they will be able to keep the run game in check. I also think their corners and safeties play better in coverage and they definitely can tackle in the open field far better than the Texas A&M secondary was.
With an offensive machine that will churn out yards, UCLA will spend most of the game on defense. Stanford will have the Bruins right were they want them. Yet again the best triplets in college football of McCaffrey, Burns and Rector will put up 25 to 30 points and when UCLA gets behind and desperate they will take more shots. With the pressure the defensive line has and the inaccuracy that Rosen has under pressure this will lead to turnovers late in the game.
Stanford jumps out ahead early and doesn't look back. They will gain a 10 point advantage and and let the defense stifle their opponent will the offense consumes the clock. Stanford wins 35-17 and McCaffrey has 310 total yards along with three touchdowns. Michael Rector also breaks 100 yards.