Thursday, March 21

UCLA football hopes to outsmart Stanford, end losing streak with Cardinal


Redshirt junior halfback Joshua Kelley has rushed for 1,188 yards in his first season on the field with UCLA football. Kelley is outrushing 2017 Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love by 608 yards this year. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)

Redshirt junior halfback Joshua Kelley has rushed for 1,188 yards in his first season on the field with UCLA football. Kelley is outrushing 2017 Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love by 608 yards this year. (Amy Dixon/Photo editor)


Freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson hadn’t been born yet.

Chip Kelly was the offensive line coach at the University of New Hampshire.

Next’s “Too Close” finished atop the year-end Billboard charts in the United States.

It’s been awhile since UCLA last swept all three of its in-state Pac-12 rivals in 1998.

That streak – and the UCLA’s 10-year winless stretch against Stanford (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) – could possibly end Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl.

“Coach Kelly made that point this is kind of the California state championship,” said redshirt senior wide receiver Christian Pabico. “We’ve beaten Cal and we’ve beaten ‘SC, so Stanford is really the last opponent we have to beat to take control of California.”

UCLA football (3-8, 3-5) got one monkey off its back last week by defeating USC for the first time in four seasons.

But whereas the Trojans start a true freshman at quarterback, the Cardinal feature a seasoned junior in K.J. Costello.

The driving force behind the conference’s most efficient passing attack, Costello has amassed 2,854 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, 11 of which have gone to wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Stanford’s tight ends have caught all but three of the other 12 scores.

“They have a really talented receiver, really talented tight ends, so it’s not a traditional grind-them-out-and-pound-you, what you would normally think of as a Stanford team,” Kelly said. “They’re not running the ball as successfully as they’ve been in the past… but they’re doing a heck of a job in the passing game.”

After finishing as a Heisman Trophy finalist last season, Cardinal running back Bryce Love has struggled to stay healthy and replicate his success. He has only totaled 580 yards on 122 carries compared to 2118 yards on 263 carries a year ago.

Love ran for a staggering 263 yards in last season’s matchup with the Bruins.

But this year, redshirt junior running back Joshua Kelley – a walk-on prior to this season – has had the more heralded season. He’s sitting at 1,188 yards, 40 shy of cracking UCLA’s top-10 single-season rushing yard list.

Kelley will face a Stanford defense that ranks sixth in the Pac-12 with an average of 147.4 rushing yards allowed per game.

“Defensively, they’re still the same type of Stanford team,” Kelly said. “They’re physical, they present multiple fronts for you, they can confuse you a little bit. You’ve got to be sharp in your assignments.”

Over the past 10 games between the two schools, UCLA ran for more yards only once – in the 2012 Pac-12 championship game. The 3-point margin of victory was the closest the Bruins came to defeating the Cardinal.

But this season, Kelley’s resurgence and Love’s decline could be the key to a 4-8 UCLA team owning bragging rights over the state of California.

“Stanford is always a good team, and I feel like it’s fun to compete against (them),” redshirt junior tight end Caleb Wilson said. “And they have a lot of great players there. We haven’t beat them in a little while too, so that will be an awesome one to finish on.”

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Senior staff

Wang is a Daily Bruin senior staffer on the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the men's tennis, women's tennis and women's soccer beats. Wang was previously a reporter for the men's tennis beat.


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