UCLA 2016 schedule preview: Washington State

Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks (9) reacts after scoring the go ahead touchdown against UCLA in the fourth quarter during a NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Washington State won 31-27. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks (9) reacts after scoring the go-ahead touchdown against UCLA in the fourth quarter at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015. Washington State won 31-27. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Continuing the look at UCLA’s 2016 schedule, here is a breakdown of the Bruins’ sixth opponent, Washington State.

UCLA at Washington State

Saturday, Oct. 15 | Martin Stadium

2015 in review

Washington State had its most successful season in more than a decade in 2015 as it finished 9-4 (6-3 Pac-12) with big wins over Oregon and UCLA. The Cougars had not had more than six wins in a year since 2003, when it went 10-3 and was ranked No. 9 in the nation at season’s end. WSU turned a three-point deficit into a four-point win over UCLA in 69 seconds as quarterback Luke Falk led a 75-yard game-winning touchdown drive to upset the Bruins on Nov. 14 at the Rose Bowl. It was the first time in 31 straight games under head coach Jim Mora that the Bruins lost when leading at halftime. UCLA’s 13 penalties were a season high for the Bruins.


— Rough road trip UCLA’s Pac-12 schedule is favorable in that the Bruins avoid Washington and Oregon and get Stanford and USC at home. As odd as it sounds, the team’s toughest conference road game might indeed be the one waiting in Pullman. Considering the heartbreak of last year’s loss at the Rose Bowl, an up-and-coming WSU team and the difficult travel involved with getting to Pullman, this could become an important and tough game for the Bruins.

— Caution: Explosives With Falk and wide receiver Gabe Marks leading the way, the WSU offense could turn into one of the most explosive in the conference and possibly the nation. Falk also has returning starting receivers in Robert Lewis and River Cracraft.

— Keep the momentum WSU is coming off its best season in a dozen years. The team has two returning stars on offense and a little bit of hype bubbling up even though the team from the other side of the state is getting most of the offseason love. Even though the Cougars were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 North, it will definitely be a tight race in the division.

Washington State players to watch

— QB Luke Falk One of the few returning starters at quarterback in the Pac-12, Falk threw for 4,561 yards and 38 touchdowns last year. He threw the ball 644 times, by far the most of any Pac-12 quarterback last year, and only came up with eight interceptions while leading the conference quarterbacks in completion percentage.

— WR Gabe Marks An All-Pac-12 first-teamer and Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, Marks had 104 receptions for 1,192 yards and 15 touchdowns last year. He set a school record for catches in a single season and led the conference in catches per game (8.0).

— DL Hercules Mata’afa The Cougars took a step forward on defense under first-year coordinator Alex Grinch last year. In 2015, they allowed 10.9 fewer points than in 2014 and tripled their turnovers forced from the previous year. WSU is losing two starters on the defensive line and Mata’afa will likely step pup to fill the void. The redshirt sophomore had 11 tackles for loss last year and seven sacks. He was named to the Sun Bowl’s Outstanding Lineman as WSU beat Miami.

Statistical comparison

Washington State in GIF form


2016 UCLA schedule

Sat., Sept. 3: UCLA at Texas A&M — 12:30 p.m., CBS
Sat., Sept. 10: UNLV at UCLA — 5 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
Sat., Sept. 17: UCLA at BYU — 7:15 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
Sat., Sept. 24: Stanford at UCLA
Sat., Oct. 1: Arizona at UCLA
Sat., Oct. 8: UCLA at Arizona State
Sat., Oct. 15: UCLA at Washington State
Sat., Oct 22: Utah at UCLA
Sat., Oct. 28: BYE
Thurs., Nov. 3: UCLA at Colorado — 6 p.m., FOX Sports 1
Sat., Nov. 12: Oregon State at UCLA
Sat., Nov. 19: USC at UCLA
Sat., Nov. 26: UCLA at California

Home games in bold, all times in Pacific Time