Prediction: Stanford 38, UCLA 30
I’m really on the verge of giving up on my gameday predictions, and it’s only halfway through the season.
While my 2-4 record may be superior to UCLA football’s 1-5 campaign so far this year, that’s not really much of an accomplishment. I went 3-3 last year, so somehow I managed to get worse.
The Bruins are going to be facing the Cardinal’s No. 3 quarterback Jack West. Despite West being a highly sought-after prospect out of Alabama, Stanford coach David Shaw didn’t let him throw the ball a single time after he came in to replace an injured Davis Mills against Washington on Oct. 5.
If a coach has that little trust in a quarterback, that usually means opposing defenses should have a field day. But that’s leaving out two important factors.
For one, running back Cameron Scarlett has the potential to tear apart the UCLA defense single-handedly. While the Bruins do rank 55 spots higher in the national rankings for rush defense than they do in pass defense, that doesn’t mean they have a perennial run-stuffing unit either – not to mention the fact that Scarlett is easily the best ball carrier they’ve faced all year.
And second, this is UCLA we’re talking about. Inexperienced and underwhelming quarterbacks have field days against this secondary and I don’t see that changing Thursday.
Unproven and low-volume passers like Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder and San Diego State’s Ryan Agnew posted career-best games, and Arizona’s true freshman backup Grant Gunnell posted 352 yards against UCLA in his collegiate debut.
Even when the stars align for the Bruins, they have proven themselves incapable of capitalizing. To be fair, I haven’t exactly been nailing it with my predictions either, but I’m still here cranking them out anyway.
Hopefully I don’t fall into the trap of being too much of a big-picture guy.
Football beat reporter
Prediction: Stanford 24, UCLA 20
Don’t let Stanford’s record fool you.
The Cardinal have battled through a tough schedule over the course of the first six weeks and have managed to come out of it tied for the second-place spot in the Pac-12 North.
Stanford’s losses have come at USC, at then-No. 17 UCF and at home against then-No. 16 Oregon – which are all acceptable losses in my book. And keep in mind, the Cardinal did knock off then-No. 15 Washington in their most recent outing.
Stanford will be without starting quarterback K.J. Costello and his backup Davis Mills, but it’s hard to imagine that being an issue for the Cardinal given how opposing quarterbacks have fared against the Bruins this season.
The Cardinal will start quarterback Jack West, who has attempted just five passes in his collegiate career. But if we have learned anything over the past two months, it’s that we should expect him to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Bruins have not yet announced their starting quarterback for Thursday’s game after redshirt sophomore Austin Burton stepped in for injured sophomore Dorian Thompson-Robinson against Arizona and Oregon State.
Regardless of who ends up starting for UCLA, I think this game will be more about the Bruins’ defense and whether or not it can step up against an inexperienced quarterback.
And if I’m being honest, I just don’t think it will.
Football beat reporter
Prediction: Stanford 23, UCLA 21
UCLA has the firepower necessary to take out an inconsistent team like Stanford, but the Bruins are too inconsistent themselves for that to matter.
Stanford has not given up more than 28 points in the last three weeks and recently held Washington to just 13 points. However, the Cardinal have also scored more than 28 just once this year, so their games have always been tense near the end.
But I just do not see UCLA’s offense breaking through on the road.
For one, the Bruins have lost to the Cardinal 11 straight times. UCLA has also only scored over 31 points once this season, and it’s been almost a month since that Washington State game anyway. Facing a stout Cardinal defense on the road is not the formula to break out of an offensive funk.
The one thing going in UCLA’s favor is Stanford’s quarterback situation. The Cardinal will be playing either with their third-string signal-caller, who did not throw a pass on two possessions against Washington.
With UCLA having its own quarterback struggles, I cannot see the Bruins escaping with a win. I do think they can make it competitive and lay the groundwork to break the streak next year, but that’s pretty far down the road at this point.
Digital Managing editor
Prediction: Stanford 52, UCLA 3
Well folks, before I dive into this prediction, I figure I’d go over my extensive sports background.
Two years ago, I confidently read “OLB” on a stat sheet as “offensive linebacker.” It’s honestly a wonder why Sam is letting me write another one of these, but I digress.
It doesn’t take a sports whiz to predict that UCLA football’s 0-11 streak against Stanford will continue to get longer. I’ve seen the Bruins fall to the Cardinal every year dating back to my freshman year. In fact, the first football game I ever watched at the Rose Bowl was a devastating 22-13 loss to Stanford.
I have photographed football for the past three years, so it’s not like I’m completely incapable of making an accurate prediction. I was on the sidelines photographing the historic comeback victory against Texas A&M, and I saw UCLA snap a three-year losing streak against USC. And if the Bruins don’t hold back on the offensive, then maybe they stand a chance against the Cardinal on Thursday.
Based on the past two games though, I’d say the Bruins are looking at a big loss.