UCLA football (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) will play Arizona State (4-1, 0-1 Pac-12) on Saturday night in Tempe, Arizona. Last year at the Rose Bowl, the Sun Devils physically dominated the game 38-23, handing then-freshman quarterback Josh Rosen the first loss of his career.
The current point spread for this game – according to BOVADA.lv, SportsBetting.ag and BETONLINE.ag – is 10 points, in favor of UCLA.
In the space below, the Daily Bruin’s beat writers for UCLA football – Matt Joye, Matt Cummings and TuAnh Dam – and guest writer and Arts and Entertainment editor Lindsay Weinberg provide their predictions of how the game will shake out between these Pac-12 rivals.
UCLA 41, Arizona State 30
This Arizona State team has some major problems in the secondary that UCLA will need to exploit – early and often – to win this game. If UCLA takes advantage of that mismatch, then it will be a long day for Arizona State.
However, if the Bruins try too hard to establish a running game – kind of like they tried to do last year against Arizona State – then this could be a closer game than expected. Offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu will need to utilize a healthy dosage of play-action on first down to prevent the Sun Devils from stacking the box like they did last year.
Whatever the play-calling is, I think sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen will still be able to win this game on his own. Last week, it looked like Rosen finally developed some chemistry on deep passes – something that was sorely lacking in the first four weeks. With that deep-ball chemistry now clicking, expect Rosen to take advantage of a weak Arizona State secondary and lead the Bruins to a win.
UCLA 38, Arizona State 24
A couple late scores by Arizona State might clean up the deficit, but with Rosen facing the nation’s worst pass defense, this game should be a convincing win for the Bruins. The Arizona State run defense has been solid, which could prevent UCLA from effectively utilizing Rosen’s excellence in play-action, but the sophomore quarterback should still post big numbers Saturday.
With starting quarterback Manny Wilkins likely sidelined for the matchup, it will be difficult for the ASU offense to keep up. It will be interesting to see what kind of pace the normally up-tempo Sun Devils employ with backup Brady White running the show. Even if he can handle the offense, White doesn’t offer the same dynamic play-making potential that Wilkins does. With White under center for Arizona State, UCLA’s strong defense is in good position to hold the Sun Devils under 30 points for just the second time this season.
UCLA 31, Arizona State 17
As cliche as it sounds, this UCLA team isn’t the same one as last year’s team. The Bruins last year could not stand up to the physicality of the Arizona State Sun Devils. The entire game can be summed up with ASU’s last drive when the offensive line pushed Kalen Ballage – literally pushed him – and the UCLA defense into the endzone for one last touchdown.
So far this season, they’ve proven they can compete in the trenches – they did so against Stanford and Arizona last weekend. The Sun Devils aren’t the same team either. They’re the worst passing defense in the nation, and that’s one area where the Bruins are starting to pick up some steam. If the receivers – redshirt junior Darren Andrews, redshirt senior Kenny Walker, etc. – can consistently catch the ball, the pressure will be on backup quarterback and likely starter Brady White to help the ASU defense keep up.
UCLA 34 , Arizona State 28
I contemplated starting with a visual about the marching band’s spirited brass sound spreading through Tempe this weekend. Or I could talk about the fashion benefits of UCLA’s dark azure uniforms versus the blood-like red of ASU.
That’s more in my wheelhouse, but I guess you’re here for sports. So I have come to a very informed opinion (trust me, it’s very informed) on the outcome of this performance – I mean game.
UCLA has a better team than ASU this year, but I attended the ASU game last year, and the Sun Devils beat the Bruins by 15 points, a sizable lead. Given Arizona is 3-1 and UCLA is 2-2, it could be close, even though, of course, their records are affected by their opponents’ strengths. Also, ASU has home-team advantage, and with about 80,000 students, the university has twice the population of UCLA. That’s a lot of screaming, folks.
Now please excuse me while I get back to writing my album review.