No. 13 UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) vs. Washington (6-3, 3-3)
Location: Rose Bowl, Nov. 15, 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN2 (Carter Blackburn, Danny Kanell, Allison Williams)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)
Last meeting: The Huskies beat the Bruins, 24-7, in Seattle. UCLA tailback Johnathan Franklin opened scoring with a 31-yard touchdown run, but the offense generated little traction after that. Richard Brehaut — who left due to injury — combined with Darius Bell and Clayton Tunney to go 6-of-25 for 55 yards. They each threw one interception.
Key storylines: Washington hasn’t beaten UCLA at the Rose Bowl since Nov. 11, 1995, when Myles Jack was two months old. Breaking that streak would help be a highlight of Steve Sarkisian’s tenure. The fifth-year head coach has shown flashes of progress in Seattle, but has stagnated with three straight seven-win seasons. A loss Friday night could put the Huskies on track for a fourth.
The Bruins could still make the Rose Bowl, but will likely need to win out to earn a spot in the Pac-12 title game. Jim Mora and his players are all pushing for fans to wear black, though the school itself hasn’t done much to market the “Bruin Eclipse” effort.
Key players: Quarterback Keith Price is making better decisions than he did during a down junior season. After throwing 13 interceptions against 19 touchdowns last year, he has four against 18 so far. No Pac-12 starter has been picked off fewer times except Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.
Of note, the Huskies have allowed 24 sacks this season, tied for 11th in the conference and 97th nationally. That has depressed Price’s rushing numbers a bit, but he isn’t usually a big-time threat on the ground. His single-game career high is 34 yards, and he actually finished last season with -34.
“Watching a lot of film, it looks like he definitely wants to stay in the pocket and pass,” defensive end Keenan Graham said. “He doesn’t run unless he absolutely has to.”
Austin Seferian-Jenkins might be the most talented offensive player on the field, but he can disappear for certain games too. He hasn’t caught multiple touchdowns in any game since Nov. 19, 2011, and only has two games this season with more than three grabs. UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr compared him to former Bruin Joseph Fauria, except with more athleticism and better route-running.
Tailback Bishop Sankey is the country’s third-leading rusher, and could be the best runner UCLA has seen this season. Shiftier than Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, the Husky junior has 17 runs of at least 20 yards — more than anyone else in the FBS.
“This guy, he’s a glider,” said Bruins coach Jim Mora. “He’s tough to tackle. A really good football player. You’re talking about two of the very best backs in the nation.”
Washington’s defense has been much better against the pass than the run. The Huskies have allowed just nine touchdowns, picking off opposing quarterbacks 10 times. Their 210.2 yards allowed through the air is the second-best mark in the conference, below Arizona State and above UCLA. The unit has been vulnerable recently, however: Oregon, ASU and California averaged 329.7 yards against the Huskies, combining for six touchdowns and one interception.
UCLA running backs Jordon James, Damien Thigpen and Steve Manfro are all either questionable or out for Friday night’s game. That means The Myles Jack Show will likely see a second act. Just how much he plays both ways, however, is yet to be determined.
“The more that he plays, the better we are as a team,” linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich said.
Did you know?: Bishop Sankey’s grandfather saw him play for the first time in five years, thanks to a cornea transplant at UCLA’s Laser Refractive Center in September.
Prediction: The Bruins notch multiple sacks for just the second time in five weeks. Bishop Sankey clears the 100-yard mark for the third straight game, but needs well over 20 carries to do it. UCLA 38, Washington 24.