No. 8 Stanford at No. 17 UCLA
Saturday, 6:30 PM, FOX
Line: Stanford -2
UCLA, in the first season under Jim L. Mora, have defended their Pac-12 South title. Unlike last season's team that was coached by the now fired Rick Neuheisel, this team has earned their way into the game and have a chance to host the game this season. UCLA beat archrival USC last week to win the division.
Stanford has assumed control of the Pac-12 North after physically dominating Oregon last week in Eugene. The Cardinal can win their division and host the title game if they beat UCLA. If Stanford loses but Oregon State wins, then they will return to the Rose Bowl for a second straight week on November 30 for the rematch with a BCS berth on the line.
For Stanford to win: Maintain balance. On offense last week, Stanford turned the ball over three times. If they hadn't coughed it up, they might have beaten Oregon by much more than three points and won the game in regulation. 211 yards passing and 200 yards rushing was almost perfect distriubtion for the offense. It meant that Stanford moved the ball not with ease, but well enough to play keepaway from Oregon. Stanford had a time of possession of 37:05 versus 22:55 for Oregon. Stay balanced and keep quarterback Kevin Hogan out of difficult situations and the chance to win increases.
For UCLA to win: Create havoc. A blocked punt and three turnovers aided the Bruins in their quest to control the football monopoly in Los Angeles. Stanford is something of a mirror image of the Bruins, as far as being physical teams that want to run the ball with a senior feature back and utilizing their freshman quarterback in controlled circumstances. The Bruins will need to create more havoc and turnovers to try and get the ball and control of the game away from the Cardinal.
Key Player, Stanford: Stepfan Taylor, running back. Taylor didn't score last week against Oregon. He didn't have a run longer than 18 yards. But the senior running back did yeoman's work last week in Eugene, toting the rock 33 times for 161 yards last week, grinding out tough yards and helping to keep the offense on schedule and keeping the ball away from the explosive Oregon offense. UCLA does give up about 147 yards per game on the ground, so Taylor has a chance to have a big game.
Key Player, UCLA: Johnathan Franklin, running back. While UCLA's defense has been towards the middle of the pack in rush defense, the Stanford defense holding Oregon down last week shouldn't have been that big of a surprise. Stanford is second in the country in rush defense, allowing only 71 yards per game on the ground. Franklin, a senior, is going to have to come up large and be leaned on heavily to provide a strong first punch for the Bruins. He carried the ball 29 times for 171 yards and two scores in the beating of USC. He might need to replicate that line (or come close) to help the Bruins win home field for the Pac-12 title game.
Key Stat: 9. If Jim Mora can win one of the next three games that the Bruins will play, he will break the record for victories for a first year coach at UCLA. He is currently tied for that record with Terry Donahue, who went 9-2-1 in his first season in 1976.