No. 12 UCLA at No. 2 Oregon
Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPN
Line: Oregon -22.5
Two electric offenses enter this game on Saturday, although one of them is slightly banged up and smarting a bit after dropping their first game of the season. The UCLA Bruins fought a toughly contested game last Saturday before falling to Stanford 24-10. Oregon whipped Washington State 62-38 in a somewhat sloppy game, especially in the first half.
This game is the second consecutive game on the road for the Bruins, and it may be an even tougher test. Can the Bruins overcome the injuries on the offensive line, reassert themselves in the Pac-12 South race and ruin Oregon's BCS championship dreams?
For UCLA to win: Run the ball. On obvious statement, sure, but the lack of an effective running game hurt the Bruins last week. UCLA only ran for 74 yards, and some of that is due to injuries to running back Jordon James as well as members of the offensive line. It still might be in UCLA's best interest to try and get the running game going, though. If UCLA can get the ball moving forward on the ground and stay on schedule, it will open up some things down field in the passing game. Stretch the field vertically instead of just passing side to side.
For Oregon to win: Don't turn the ball over. Marcus Mariota has yet to throw an interception this season. However, two fumbles by him in the second quarter last week allowed Washington State to hang around a lot longer than they probably should have. UCLA can take advantage of those kinds of mistake just as easily as Wazzu did. Do not allow the Bruins to get any extra possessions for free.
Key Player, UCLA: Brett Hundley, quarterback. With the running game not working, more pressure has fallen on the redshirt sophomore quarterback to produce, and he struggled a bit against a strong Stanford defense, completing 24 of 39 passes for 192 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Hundley's working behind a bit of instability on the offensive line against an aggressive, turnover forcing Oregon defense (the Ducks are tied for first in turnovers forced with 21). He has to maintain his composure against the Ducks on the road in his first trip to Autzen Stadium.
Key Player, Oregon: Byron Marshall, running back. The injury to DeAnthony Thomas has allowed for Marshall, the sophomore, to show what he can do on the larger stage as the feature back. He has not disappointed, as he has led the Ducks this season in carries, yards and touchdowns. Marshall had one of the quietest big games you'll ever see, as he racked up 192 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries against Washington State last weekend. While the Ducks work DeAnthony Thomas back into the rotation, expect to see Marshall featured just as prominently the rest of the way this year.
Key Stat: 109. The last two times the Ducks faced the Bruins, the Ducks have scored 109 points in their two victories. In 2010 the Ducks won 60-13, and in 2011 Oregon won 49-31. Both of those games were in Eugene.