Game of the Week: No. 9 UCLA vs. No.16 Arizona
While fans might be disappointed by the lack of big matchups in week four, the Pac-12 will have all the action Saturday night when No. 9 UCLA heads to Tuscon to take on conference No. 16 Arizona.
Coming off of a one-point victory against No. 19 BYU, the Bruins have proven that they can get the job done against ranked teams.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen has thrown for 680 yards and five touchdowns through the first three games of the season. Running back Paul Perkins has also been a distinct contribution on the Bruin offense accounting for 429 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
While Rosen struggled against BYU throwing three interceptions, Perkins excelled on the ground picking up 219 yards and a touchdown.
The Bruins will need to continue their success on the ground against the Arizona Wildcats as this week’s matchup will mark their first real test on the road. Since Arizona runs such a successful 3-3-5 defense, Rosen should see a lot of pressure early on, especially if the Wildcats star linebacker Scooby Wright III returns from injury.
Wright III, arguably one of the best linebackers in college football, has been inactive for the past two games due to a torn meniscus.
A key name to watch out for on the Arizona defense is sophomore cornerback Cam Denson. With a banged up defense, the Wildcats will need to look for big plays from those who can produce them and Denson is one of those players. If he can limit his mistakes, Denson will cause trouble for Rosen and star wide receiver Jordan Payton through the air.
The real test of this game will be the explosive Arizona offense versus the shutdown UCLA defense. Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon has put up incredible numbers already. Through the opening three weeks, Solomon has tallied 778 yards and 10 touchdowns. Wildcat running back Nick Wilson has also found success on the ground rushing for 434 yards and five touchdowns.
Arizona’s two top wide receivers of last year, Samajie Grant and Cayleb Jones, both left last week’s game due to minor injuries but are expected to play this week.
Even though the case could be made that Arizona’s non-conference schedule was weak, the Wildcats still got the job done averaging 54 points a game. That statistic is tied for third in the nation.
On the other side of the ball, UCLA has allowed an average of just 14 points per game ranking 16 in the nation.
Unfortunately for UCLA, two of their defensive stars are gone due to season-ending injuries. The loss of junior linebacker Myles Jack and senior cornerback Fabian Moreau, arguably the two best players on the UCLA defense, will certainly make it much easier for Arizona to navigate through the Bruin defense.
That being said, Jim Mora’s UCLA team has a ton of depth on defense.
Be sure to watch for cornerback Ishmael Adams, who was recently reinstated to the team following a robbery case. The former first-team All-Pac 12 defender will be a huge help to a Bruin defense that needs to replace Moreau at CB.
Expect a shootout as these offenses look to take advantage of two defenses dealing with major injuries. According to Bleacher Report, the UCLA Bruins are 3-point favorites.
PREDICTION: UCLA-37, Arizona- 31
Mike D’Avella is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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