Gameday Predictions: UCLA vs. Stanford
Pictured are junior running back Carson Steele (left) and redshirt freshman wide receiver Braden Pegan (right). (Photos by Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor. Photo illustration by Helen Quach/Design director)
No. 25 UCLA football (4-2, 1-2 Pac-12) is staying on the road, this time heading to Northern California to face Stanford (2-4, 1-3). Here are this week’s predictions from Sports editor Joseph Crosby, Sports senior staff writer Jack Nelson and assistant Sports editor Ira Gorawara – along with a guest prediction from Photo senior staff Jeremy Chen.
Prediction: UCLA 27, Stanford 13
I’m begrudgingly picking a Bruins’ win this week.
But that has considerably more to do with the fact that Stanford is bad than it has anything to do with UCLA being good.
If any aspect of the Cardinal were better than it is, I’d probably be making the opposite call.
So don’t expect back-to-back Pac-12 After Dark experiences from Stanford.
The Cardinal’s miraculous 46-43 comeback win last week in Boulder was just a flash in the pan, and I don’t expect the Bruins’ defense – which is still very good – to give up any more than two touchdowns, nor do I think it would blow a four-touchdown lead.
On the contrary, Stanford’s abysmal offensive line – ranked bottom 20 nationally in both tackles for loss and sacks allowed – is likely to crumble against a rushing front led by senior defensive lineman Laiatu Latu and redshirt senior linebacker Darius Muasau.
The biggest unknown right now is freshman quarterback Dante Moore.
Stanford’s defense is not nearly on the same level as Oregon State’s or Utah’s. However, given the recent struggles from Moore and successes from junior running back Carson Steele, UCLA seems much more likely to take a ground-and-pound strategy when it travels north.
This game isn’t a question of who will win.
I’d be thoroughly shocked if the Bruins lose. The biggest thing to wonder is how they’ll go about moving the ball downfield.
Daily Bruin senior staff
Prediction: UCLA 42, Stanford 10
Long gone are the days when the Bruins boasted the No. 4 offense in the country.
I say that like it wasn’t just a year ago, but it seems a distant memory. No thanks to its offense, UCLA has crawled its way through Pac-12 play so far this season.
But with one of the conference’s bottomfeeders next on the docket, it’s time for the Bruins to break out in a big way.
It has to start with Moore, who caught a lot of flak for his decline in the starting role. He enters Palo Alto coming off the worst performance of his young collegiate career, but fortunately for him, Stanford’s defense is much like those he manhandled back in high school.
The Cardinal allow a dismal 321.5 passing yards per game – the second-worst mark in all of college football – and Moore has yet to reach the 300-yard plateau. The only thing stopping him from doing so Saturday will be his own coaches, who have shown a strong preference for the run game.
Steele is why. He’s arguably the most critical cog in UCLA’s offensive scheme, and his back-to-back 100-plus rushing yard performances are evidence why. It is the country’s No. 10 ground attack, after all, which wins games for the Bruins.
But if Steele – or sophomore running back T.J. Harden – isn’t on his A-game, Moore and his wideouts should finally flex some muscle against a truly terrible defense.
They have to. If this Bruin offense doesn’t break out now, it never will in 2023.
Assistant Sports editor
Prediction: UCLA 38, Stanford 15
The Bruins and Cardinal have yet to clash helmets with a shared Pac-12 opponent.
So maybe there isn’t a direct way to measure the capability of the respective teams against each other.
One gauge we have is that Stanford – who are currently second-last in the Pac-12 – is yet to best a conference opponent in regulation. And that too, was an affair that looked entirely one-sided in Colorado’s favor until a fluke of a scoring run allowed the Cardinal to create a stir with an unexpected overtime victory.
But the Bruins also haven’t monopolized the conference in any respect. In fact, they’ll land in Palo Alto after two losses in three games, perhaps an effect of Moore’s difficulties keeping his head above Pac-12’s waters. And in return, UCLA has struggled offensively – it hasn’t scored more than 25 points in any of its last three games, while turning the ball over seven times in that stretch.
Perhaps the “fluke” that allowed the Cardinal to stage the largest comeback win in program history will hand them the momentum needed to protect their home ground after five consecutive home losses.
But Colorado is unimpressive on defense.
UCLA is not.
Stanford’s magical victory last week doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s one of the worst teams in the country at coming up with third down stops. Its defense surrenders 36 points per game. The Bruins could take advantage of that.
Very soon, UCLA will have a shot to stake its claim as an offensive threat – something it has yet to do in conference play this season.
Daily Bruin senior staff
Prediction: UCLA 35, Stanford 17
Nothing is harder than thinking of a clever, unique way to deliver a 250-word football prediction. That is, besides UCLA’s freshman quarterback not throwing an interception.
Moore’s picks per game have steadily increased since throwing a clean game against North Carolina Central. In recent games versus Utah, Washington State and Oregon State, the signal caller’s interceptions have risen at a linear rate.
Each of these games also featured a pick six, showcasing just how raw the five-star recruit still is.
The number of Moore’s interceptions in the last three games – and my reaction every time I watch the football fly into the hands of the enemy – is articulated best by my good friend, Sia, in her hit song “Chandelier.”
“One, two, three, one, two, three, drink.”
Every time Mr. Moore throws a pick Saturday, I’ll take a deep sigh, and a long sip of my drink.
And now, to fill out more of this word count, here’s a small poem I wrote:
Stanford’s mascot, the Cardinal; it’s just a tree,
UCLA will cut it down with such ease,
We’ll double their score,
But please, Dante Moore,
Try to keep my drink count under three.