UCLA football (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) will play Arizona (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) on Saturday night. Last year, the Bruins dominated the game 56-30, the first big road win of then-freshman quarterback Josh Rosen’s career and their fourth in a row.
The current point spread for this game – according to Westgate, SportsBetting.ag and BETONLINE.ag – is 13.5 points, in favor of UCLA.
In the space below, the Daily Bruin’s beat writers for UCLA football – Matt Cummings, TuAnh Dam and Derrek Li – and guest writer and assistant Photo editor MacKenzie Possee provide their predictions of how the game will shake out between these Pac-12 rivals.
UCLA 31, Arizona 17
The UCLA offense really should be able to explode this Saturday.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen has a great matchup against Arizona’s defense. Rosen is at his best in the intermediate passing game, and the Wildcats rank near the bottom of the Football Bowl Subdivision at preventing intermediate gains through the air.
And the rushing attack, so heavily frustrated by BYU and Stanford the past two weeks, will face an Arizona defense that gives up 4.6 yards per carry and 198.3 yards per game. The Bruins have not been able to break off long gains on the ground thus far, but the Wildcats have been susceptible to big plays on the ground. Only two FBS teams – Cal and Syracuse – have allowed more runs of over 30 yards than Arizona.
Defensively, UCLA will be challenged by dynamic Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins, who has carved up opponents for 130 rushing yards a game since taking over for injured starter Anu Solomon. Dawkins kept the Wildcats in the game last week against No. 10 Washington with 176 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, but the Bruins should be ready to at least slow him down.
Though Dawkins is faster than BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, the Bruins’ game plan against the Wildcats could be similar to what it was two weeks ago against the Cougars. In that game, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley used linebackers Jayon Brown and Kenny Young to “cover” the quarterback, and UCLA held Hill to -7 yards on 10 carries. Dawkins will pose more of a problem, but I don’t expect him to torch the Bruins by any means.
UCLA 31, Arizona 17
If there was ever a good loss, last Saturday was it. It was a brutal loss to Stanford, but UCLA won 58 of the 60 minutes played. The biggest test this week won’t really be Arizona: It’ll be the Bruin’s mental game. We’ve seen all the pieces over the last four games – the stifling defense, the depth on offense. Now it’s time for them to put it all together.
Saturday will be UCLA’s first Pac-12 South opponent, and Arizona shouldn’t have the weapons to hang around. The one area the Wildcats are much better at than the Bruins is the run game. But the defense proved it can stop the best of the best, holding Christian McCaffrey to 151 yards and limiting BYU to 50 yards in Provo. If UCLA can contain the running backs and dual-threat quarterback Dawkins, it should be all Bruins at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. This time for the whole 60 minutes.
UCLA 31, Arizona 17
Yes, the loss to Stanford was not only heartbreaking, but also frustrating. But look at the silver lining, UCLA proved that it has what it takes to compete with the big boys. After the game, a couple of Bruins said that they can’t wait to face the Cardinal again in the Pac-12 championship. Time to put your money where your mouth is.
UCLA has to prove that last week was not a fluke; and to do so, it can’t face any setbacks. If the defense comes out the way it has the past couple of weeks and if Rosen and company continues to grow more and more comfortably in the offense, the Bruins should have their way with the banged-up Wildcats.
[Arizona preview: Bruins try to shift mindset after heartbreaker]
Guest prediction: Mackenzie Possee
UCLA 38, Arizona 17
Full disclosure: I don’t know much about football. I have photographed two football games this season, so we can pretend that I’m qualified to write this prediction. Based on the ESPN article I just skimmed, it looks like Arizona has got some major injuries they will be dealing with Saturday. UCLA held its own against Stanford – save the last 24 seconds – so I’m pretty positive they’ll come out on top. Arizona and UCLA are both 2-2, so I’m predicting 17-38 Arizona and UCLA, respectively. I got these numbers because I’m currently listening to Fetty Wap, so it must be a sign.