College Football Game of the Week: UCLA vs. No. 10 Oregon
As the college football season winds down for a week, all eyes look west to the game with severe conference implications.
Taking place in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the No. 10 Oregon Ducks, still in the hunt for a playoff spot, go south to take on the UCLA Bruins for the 3:30 p.m. kickoff on ABC.
Both teams are fighting for spots in the Pac-12 Championship Game, considering Oregon sits one game ahead of the table in the Pac-12 North and UCLA finds itself tied for second in the Pac-12 South behind the Utah Utes.
Starting with Oregon, the offense took a big hit with the loss of running back CJ Verdell due to a significant injury that has not been disclosed. The Ducks, who struggle with shaky quarterback play, need to find a way to not rely on the run game for the rest of the season considering their star tailback could ride the pine the rest of the year.
Looking at Oregon’s numbers heading into the matchup, its offense consists of a balanced attack. Through the air, it posts 216.3 yards per game while gaining 210.3 yards per game on the ground.
On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary seems to be the cause of concern. The defensive backs have managed to allow 270.5 yards per game through the air, but the defensive line limits opponents to 137.3 yards per game.
On defense, it starts and ends with defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux and linebacker Noah Sewell. The combo provided for five out of 12 sacks the Ducks’ defense posted on the stat sheet, along with Sewell leading the team with 54 total tackles, 21 of which have been unassisted.
In the Ducks previous game against the Cal Golden Bears at home, the offense struggled to get points on the board, going down 7-3 after the first quarter, and giving up two turnovers in the process. As for the defense, it let up 402 yards of total offense, with 247 of those yards on the passing game.
Flipping sides of the field, UCLA comes off a close win against the Washington Huskies 24-17 in Seattle.
Washington made a late run to tie the game at 17, but quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson drove down the field to end with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Greg Dulcich to seal the win for the Bruins.
For a team that averages 33.9 points per game, UCLA finds itself as a balanced team. It averages 220.1 yards per game rushing and 205.3 yards per game passing.
On defense, the Bruins main factor to their success is stopping the run, which will be a detriment to Oregon. UCLA finds itself allowing 91 rushing yards per game, which ranks No. 9 in the nation.
The secondary may be UCLA’s cause of concern. That defensive group allows 290.1 yards per game, which leads to opponents putting up 25.1 points per game against the Bruins.
Looking into this game, Oregon’s run game is the main X-factor into how each team will win this game. UCLA’s trenches are loaded to blow up the run in the backfield, while the Ducks must rely on their second-string back to get the majority of their carries.
Thompson-Robinson needs to expose the Oregon secondary to blow this Ducks team out. This game can be a great tune up for UCLA before taking on the frontrunner of the Pac-12 South — Utah.
Expect the home team to run away with this game.
Prediction: UCLA 38, No. 10 Oregon 17
Jonathan Draeger is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.