Bruins must end three-game losing streak to Cardinal to clinch division
The No. 8 UCLA Bruins will play for the Pac-12 South title this Friday when the unranked Stanford Cardinal drag into the Rose Bowl, 6-5 record in tow.
Considering the Cardinal have losses against two teams the Bruins beat handily in USC and Arizona State, the victory seems obtainable.
However, UCLA would be wise to pay attention to the team on the field and not the scoreboard.
Stanford’s offense is reeling while their defense is trying their best to hold down the fort. Coming off consecutive Pac-12 Championships and Rose Bowl berths, Stanford has not lived up to preseason hype, even though their defense ranks seventh in the FBS in points allowed (16.5) and yards per game (290).
In their last three meetings the Cardinal have held the Bruins’ vaunted spread offense to 51 points, with their last meeting culminating in a 266 total-yard, two interception, four sack, 24-10 smack down in Palo Alto.
This Friday at the Rose Bowl, UCLA needs to score early in order to put pressure on Stanford’s 61st and 85th ranked passing and rushing offenses respectively.
The Bruins have now been able to flex their offensive muscle since their back-to-back losses to Utah and Oregon. Currently UCLA ranks 30th in PPG with 35 and 17th in YPG with 487.
Both of their lines have shown the ability to withstand pressure and provide it. Against the Trojans, UCLA only relinquished two sacks while collecting six.
If the Bruins handle their business on Friday they will be able to enjoy the final Saturday of the college football regular season, calling for utter chaos.
Major rivalries could result in a shakeup of the final playoff rankings before the conference championship next Saturday.
No. 15 Auburn visits No. 1 Alabama. The Iron Bowl the last few years has had National Championship implications, which has created some all-time classics between these two fabled universities.
One thing is certain, the Crimson Tide have not forgotten last year’s “kick six” that put the college football world on its head.
Chris Davis’ 100+ yard scamper into the SEC and National Championship games will be remembered for ages to come.
This year’s clash will maintain that same drama as the Tigers can once again spoil Alabama’s title hopes, this time at Bryant-Denny in Tuscaloosa.
An interesting cross-conference matchup pits the defending champion Florida State Seminoles (11-0) against the embattled yet plucky Florida Gators (6-4), who are trying to end the Noles’ 27-game win streak, knocking them out of the playoff picture.
No. 4 Mississippi State travels to Ole Miss to face a team that has fallen from No. 3 to No. 18 because of back-to-back losses to LSU and Arkansas. If Ole Miss can return to form and hand the Bulldogs their second loss that would end their chance at the playoff as well.
Unranked Texas is playing with passion and gets No. 5 TCU at home on Thanksgiving. The 6-5 Longhorns, under first-year head coach Charlie Strong, have bounced back from losses to four Top-25 teams (UCLA included).
On December 6, No. 6 Ohio State plays either No. 18 Minnesota (8-3) or No. 14 Wisconsin (9-2) in the Big-10 championship game and No. 7 Baylor faces No. 12 Kansas State in the pseudo Big-12 championship.
These outcomes could also affect UCLA’s bid for the playoffs.
Of course, if UCLA makes the Pac-12 championship and takes down Oregon, they could vault over many of the aforementioned teams regardless if they lose or not. But the selection committee has shown they don’t believe in the Pac-12, so undoubtedly UCLA will need some losses from those ranked ahead of them.
But for now the top priority is snapping their three-game losing skid against the Cardinal on Friday.
Then they can watch the scoreboard all they want and hope for nothing but destruction.
Or in the olden days, BCS busting. (BCS is such a dirty word)
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