First look: No. 18 UCLA vs. Washington State

No. 18 UCLA Bruins (7-2, 4-2) vs. Washington State (6-3, 4-2)
Saturday, Nov. 14, 7:45 p.m., Rose Bowl
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Tom Luginbill)
Radio: AM 570 (Bill Roth, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Scouting report: For the fourth straight season, Washington State is ranked first in the country in pass attempts (512) and last in rushing attempts (214). Mike Leach, of course, is in his fourth year of coaching the Cougars. … When WSU does elect to run the ball, it has been more efficient — relatively speaking. After averaging less than 2.1 yards per carry through the last three seasons, the Cougars are up to almost 3.5 this fall. … Three Washington State receivers are among the Pac-12’s top 10 in total receiving yards, but none rank that high in yards per catch. The team has only connected on three passes of at least 40 yards, the lowest number in the conference. … The Cougars have had their two best defensive games in the last two weeks against Stanford and Arizona State. On the season, however, they are allowing opponents to convert 45.3 percent of third downs and score touchdowns on 70.3 percent of red-zone trips. … Leach said this is a less “selfish” roster than he’s had at WSU in years past, which has translated to a closer bond between teammates across position groups and better play on the field.

Series history: UCLA has won five straight games against WSU, but hasn’t faced the Cougars since 2012. The Bruins lead the all-time series, 39-19-1.

Key players:

QB Luke Falk, RSo., 6-4, 205 — 353/503, 3,736 yards, 33 TD, 7 INT
— After an ill-fated transfer to Oaks Christian that uprooted his family, the Utah native walked on at Washington State. He’s since shown why Florida State gave him his first scholarship offer.

WR Gabe Marks, RJr., 6-0, 190 — 69 catches, 865 yards, 11 TD
– After redshirting in 2014 due to an infection, the Venice High grad only needs three more catches to set a new WSU career record.

WR Dom Williams, RSr., 6-2, 200 — 54 catches, 779 yards, 8 TD
– Can be prone to drops, but came through in a big way earlier this season when he made a game-tying catch against Oregon following his grandmother’s death.

LB Kache Palacio, Sr., 6-2, 233 — 21 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
— Faced UCLA three years ago as a special teams player, but has since started 28 games.

S Shalom Luani, Jr., 6-0, 201 — 65 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 3 INT, 5 pass breakups
– A former teenage soccer star in American Samoa, Luani is regarded as WSU’s hardest hitter.

Line: UCLA opened as an 8.5-point favorite.

Opponent in GIF form:


Fun fact: Washington State began shipping its own brand of premium beef in 2013. Prices aren’t listed online for cuts of steak, but ground Wagyu will run you $6.50 a pound.

  • EncinitasBruin

    Did you push the “buy” button, Jack, on some of that Wagyu hamburger? Hopefully that’s what our D will make of that porous Wazzu OL.

  • Hogsman

    Leach is a crafty coach, and Falk is in a zone – should be a tightly-contested game. Although UCLA has a better record, WSU is the hotter team, having beaten ASU and having come within a FG (that should have been made) of beating Stanford. I see this as a toss-up, with coaching/playcalling being a crucial factor.

    • EncinitasBruin

      51-41 Bruins. The team who punts the least wins.

      • Hogsman

        Unless the lack of punts is due to turnovers instead of scores <]:o).