It could be a preview of the Pac-12 championship, and it might just be an elimination game in the CFP chase for the loser. Check out the Stanford vs. UCLA fearless prediction and game preview.
Stanford (2-0) vs. UCLA (2-1) Game Preview
Date: Saturday, September 24th
Game Time: 8:00 pm
Venue: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Why Stanford Will Win
Remember this offseason when UCLA talked all about how it’s going to be a meaner, more physical, tougher team that liked to pound away and get nasty and gritty.
Yeah, that isn’t happening.
The Bruin offensive front hasn’t been awful – more on that in a moment – but it isn’t generating much of a push for the ground game. It’s easy to rely on the quarterback when he’s Josh Rosen, but the rushing attack is averaging just 3.5 yards per pop and hasn’t shown enough to balance out the O.
Stanford’s offense isn’t lighting the world on fire yet, but to be fair, it faced two fantastic defenses in Kansas State and USC – yes, the Trojans can play a little D, Alabama fans – and still got the job done with an O line that actually is physical and can bang away.
There still might be a few too many moving parts and replacements getting their feet wet, but the results haven’t been bad against two good teams.
Not hurting the Cardinal cause is how they’re not hurting themselves. The defense has been outstanding on third downs, there aren’t a slew of turnovers, and so far the team has committed just seven penalties for 61 yards.
If this gets to be a tough, physical, grinding game in any way, take a guess on which team is better equipped to handle it.
Why UCLA Will Win
At some point, UCLA is going to realize it has a boatload of good players and it’ll start to play like it.
Rosen has been fine after throwing three picks in the opener against Texas A&M, but he’s not getting a whole heck of a lot of help.
The running game has been so-so – no, I’m not saying it’s been Soso – and the receivers have been okay, but the offense just isn’t meshing. However, what it’s doing well is keeping Rosen clean to let him operate, and he’s doing his part by getting the ball out of his hands in a hurry.
Also, at some point, Stanford will have to throw the ball to win, and that’s going to be a problem if the first two games are any indication.
Stanford hasn’t had to push itself yet. Use Christian McCaffrey, rely on the defense, don’t screw up, capitalize on the opportunities that are there, and then go take a steam. There’s no complaining – Stanford beat Kansas State and USC – but if Rosen and UCLA can come out roaring and put up a few early points, and then rely on a secondary that’s been solid so far, McCaffrey can get his yards and his moments, but they won’t be enough.
What’s Going To Happen?
Is this finally when UCLA shows it’s ready to be a player in the 2016 college football season? It can still make a run for the CFP by winning out and taking the Pac-12 title, and this might just be the biggest hurdle over the rest of the regular season.
But it’s UCLA, and it could just as easily sputter along while the Stanford comes into the Rose Bowl and does what Stanford does.
The Bruins have shown absolutely nothing so far to suggest they can win a game like this. They haven’t been explosive enough, they haven’t put together a good enough full 60 minutes, and they haven’t looked in any way like they’re ready to make any sort of national splash.
But this is the game Stanford’s lack of a passing game gets exposed, and this is where Rosen carries the team on his back. So against all sound logic, reason and judgement …
Stanford vs. UCLA Prediction
Final Score: UCLA 24, Stanford 23
Line: Stanford -3, o/u: 46.5
ATS Confidence: 5: Xmas in September – 1: Get out now … 1
Must See Rating: 5: The Magnificent Seven – 1: The Voice … 4