Early Analysis: Arizona vs. UCLA


No. 22 Arizona at UCLA
10:30 PM, Pac-12 Networks
Line: UCLA -3.5

A spot in second place is on the line for both of these teams on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl. Oddly enough, both of these teams knocked off each other's blood rival last weekend in thrilling fashion.

UCLA kicked a game winning field goal with no time left on the clock to defeat the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe 45-43.

Arizona overcame a 15 point deficit in running off 26 straight points in defeating the USC Trojans 39-36 in Tucson. So what will it take for someone to get the upperhand late Saturday night?

For Arizona to win: Stop somebody. The Wildcats have been torched in their three losses, allowing 495 yards to Oregon, 545 yards to Oregon State and 617 yards to Stanford. Even last week, in the victory over USC, the Wildcats gave up yardage by the bushel, allowing the Trojans to amass 618 yards, including 493 through the air (and 345 of those to one receiver in Marquise Lee). Yes, the Wildcats can force turnovers (19 this season, tied for 16th), but it helps if they just manage to stop teams every once in a while from moving the ball.

For UCLA to win: Protect the football. The Bruins are tied for 16th in forcing turnovers themselves, but they've also given the ball up 18 times. Arizona was able to capitalize on five USC turnovers in their game last week. Keep the ball safe, move the ball down the field, and the Bruins should be able to win a close game at home.

Key Player, Arizona: Matt Scott, quarterback. The redshirt senior put up 496 yards of total offense last week, atlhough his completion percentage was pedestrian at best (54 percent). Scott is capable of playing better in the pocket, although he will have to watch out for a ball hawking defense in the Bruins (12 interception on the season).

Key Player, UCLA: Jonathan Franklin, running back. Big players come up big in big games. Franklin, a senior, is one of the best running backs in the country, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Surprisingly, though, he has only six touchdowns through eight games, with three of those touchdowns coming in the season opener at Rice. UCLA should try to feature Franklin early and often, as the Arizona defense gives up an average of 4.4 yards per carry. Franklin could find the end zone a couple of time against the Wildcats, and doing so would go a long way towards helping UCLA win.

Key Stat: 5. The number of years it has been since the Bruins beat the Wildcats, in Karl Dorrell's penultimate season at the helm.