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Gameday predictions: UCLA vs. Washington State

Pictured are sophomore running back T.J. Harden (left) and redshirt senior defensive back Alex Johnson (right). (Photos by (left to right): Brandon Morquecho/Assistant Photo editor, Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor. Photo illustration by Helen Quach/Design director)

By Joseph Crosby, Gavin Carlson, Cecilia Schmitz, and Megan Cai

Oct. 7, 2023 8:53 a.m.

UCLA football (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) is hosting No. 13 Washington State (4-0, 1-0) for its first home conference game of the season. Here are this week’s predictions from Sports editor Joseph Crosby, Sports staff writer Gavin Carlson and assistant Sports editor Cecilia Schmitz – as well as a guest prediction from former assistant Photo editor and current senior staffer Megan Cai.

Joseph Crosby
Sports editor
Prediction: UCLA 35, Washington State 28

Saturday is a day full of sporting events.

Not only is there a full slate of college football games – including UCLA’s noon contest against Washington State – but the divisional round of the MLB postseason is also starting.

Thankfully, Clayton Kershaw’s first pitch for the Dodgers won’t come until more than six hours after UCLA kicks off, so I have plenty of time to both cover the Bruins and watch The Boys in Blue.

I could give a stat-laden explanation for how these teams match up, what to expect from quarterback Cameron Ward and the Washington State offense, and how edge Ron Stone Jr. leads the Cougars’ defense.

But that’s why Gavin wrote a scouting report.

Instead, I will use another tried and true methodology: applying the outcomes of an entirely different sport at an entirely different level to this singular game.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, the only true LA team, made the playoffs by winning the National League West.

Meanwhile, after a tumultuous final week of the year, the Seattle Mariners – Washington’s only MLB team – narrowly missed out on a Wild Card berth.

So while I do think the Bruins’ defense will be able to limit Ward enough for their offense to bounce back from the loss against then-No. 11 Utah, I’ll default back to a baseball explanation for why UCLA will reenter the win column.

LA has a playoff baseball team, and the state of Washington does not.

Gavin Carlson
Daily Bruin staff
Prediction: UCLA 27, Washington State 24

It’s not about how you start – it’s about how you finish. That’s typically the saying.

But on Saturday, the potential for Washington State to blow things open early exists. Blazing fast starts have become a norm for its offense thus far this season.

The Cougars have outscored opponents 112-33 in the first halves of their games and have yet to fall behind by more than a touchdown in any contest.

Washington State’s most recent win over then-No. 14 Oregon State is a prime example, as the Cougars scored a touchdown on their first three drives – all at least 75 yards – to jump out to a 21-7 lead.

The offense easily could’ve blown the game open early if it wasn’t for back-to-back fumbles on its first two drives of the second quarter, but three scoring drives in four tries after that helped put things away for good.

As for UCLA, the offense gave Utah more points via a pick-six than it scored for the first 3 1/2 quarters, and it started slowly against San Diego State too.

If both trends continue, the Bruins could dig a hole too large for themselves to get out of.

But I don’t see that happening.

If coach Chip Kelly can script a run-heavy set of plays early against a weak Washington State front seven and at least keep pace with the Cougars, that’s a huge success. Why? Because unlike a pass-heavy attack that usually dwindles as the game goes on, the run game typically gets stronger as offensive lines wear out the opposing defense.

UCLA just needs to keep things close early. If it does, the Bruins’ top-20 running game will carry them to a tight victory.

Cecilia Schmitz
Assistant Sports editor
Prediction: UCLA 17, Washington State 31

I went into this season of UCLA football with high expectations. While I still believe this team has the potential to perform, its game against Utah was an early blow that is difficult to bounce back from.

Freshman quarterback Dante Moore has had the weight of the football world on his shoulders, coming into his first collegiate season as a five-star recruit.

His first real test against Utah revealed cracks in UCLA’s offense. It did not go well, to say the least.

Against one of the top defenses in the country, the Bruins were smothered, barely able to put points on the board.

Do I think Saturday’s game will have an offensive drought of the same scale?

No.

However, I do not believe UCLA is up to snuff in competing against another top-15 team.

Moore and his receiving corps will put up a stronger fight, racking up more yards and scoring more touchdowns than they did against Utah.

But there’s more to football than just the offense.

UCLA’s defense is up against a top-tier quarterback in Ward and the second-best passing offense in the nation.

Although the Bruins’ defense has improved significantly, I do not believe they are capable of shutting down a top-tier offense.

UCLA will put up a better fight than it did two weeks ago, but ultimately it will remain winless in conference play.

Megan Cai
Daily Bruin senior staff
Prediction: UCLA 7, Washington State 28

I thought it would end last season. It should have ended last season. It did not end last season.

In 2022, I only attended three UCLA football games: Oregon, Arizona and USC. I had never watched college football before and seldom showed school spirit, but I was excited to see our famed players in action and cheer with a crowd of roaring Bruins as we celebrated our team’s triumph.

Unfortunately, I never got the chance.

In 2022, UCLA only lost three games in its regular season: Oregon, Arizona and USC. I blamed the first loss to the Ducks on horrendous weather. I filed the second loss against the Wildcats as a fluke. But after the Trojans intercepted the ball on what could have been a game-winning drive, I was convinced that the Bruins would never win a game so long as I was in attendance. They would never grant me the zeal that so many of my peers feel and the secondhand thrill of winning that keeps sports fans craving more.

Despite the losses I witnessed last year, I entered Rice-Eccles Stadium just two weeks ago naively optimistic about a UCLA win against Utah. The Bruins sported a fresh roster, and I was hopeful that its new faces would offer me the football experience I pined for.

My optimism quickly went up in flames after the Utes scored a touchdown within the first 12 seconds of the game. We didn’t know it at the time, but UCLA’s fate for that game was sealed, and my status as the harbinger of a Bruin loss was solidified.

As UCLA heads into its game against Washington State, it should be known that I will be there on the sidelines. And after watching the Bruins walk off the field in defeat four times in a row, I think it’s safe to say that they will do so again.

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Joseph Crosby | Sports editor
Crosby is the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a fourth-year statistics student.
Crosby is the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a fourth-year statistics student.
Gavin Carlson | Sports staff
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
Cecilia Schmitz | Assistant Sports editor
Schmitz is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the women’s soccer, beach volleyball, women’s golf and cross country beats. She was previously a contributor on the women’s soccer and beach volleyball beats and a staffer for the Outreach section. She is also a third-year political science and communication student.
Schmitz is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the women’s soccer, beach volleyball, women’s golf and cross country beats. She was previously a contributor on the women’s soccer and beach volleyball beats and a staffer for the Outreach section. She is also a third-year political science and communication student.
Megan Cai | Assistant Photo editor
Cai is a 2022-2023 assistant Photo editor on the Arts beat and an Arts, Sports and Podcasts contributor. She is a second-year communication student minoring in food studies.
Cai is a 2022-2023 assistant Photo editor on the Arts beat and an Arts, Sports and Podcasts contributor. She is a second-year communication student minoring in food studies.
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