Q: How do you think UCLA will finish season? And which bowl will UCLA go to?
A: It’s hard to say at this point. I’ve covered UCLA since 2012, and this is probably as poor a feel as I’ve ever had for the team’s outlook. I could see the Bruins winning out, splitting, or losing out its final two regular-season games with little surprise at any outcome.
So, let’s break down the possible scenarios:
1) UCLA loses out. I think this would likely place the Bruins in the Las Vegas Bowl.
2) UCLA splits. The Sun Bowl now has the fifth selection out of the Pac-12, which seems like a reasonable landing spot for a 7-5 team.
3) UCLA wins out. If the Bruins then also win the Pac-12 Championship, they would obviously be in the Rose Bowl. But if they lost that title game, I think they would get placed in the Holiday Bowl. The Alamo Bowl has the second selection out of the conference, but UCLA just played there last year.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being most likely): What would you say UCLA’s chances were of beating Utah with Devontae Booker? What would you say UCLA’s chances are of beating Utah without Devontae Booker?
A: I probably would’ve given UCLA a 4 or a 5 before Booker went down. I’d move that up to 7.5 or so now. Continue reading
No one on UCLA’s side has underplayed the importance of its next game, a Saturday trip to Salt Lake City with effects that will ripple past state borders.
“This is it right here,” said Kenny Clark, the Bruins’ star nose tackle. “This is it for us. This is it for them.”
This is the game that could end Pac-12 South hopes for UCLA (7-3, 4-3) or Utah (8-2, 5-2), the game that could have one group of fans jumping into the air and the other shielding its eyes. Both are in position to potentially finish at the top of the division by winning out — though the No. 18 Utes also need USC to lose. Both could still fall to a forgettable bowl game.
Here’s what to watch when the Bruins kick off at 12:30 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
When UCLA has the ball
Josh Rosen has played like a top-level quarterback for the past several weeks. Can he keep it up against one of the best defenses he’s seen?
The true freshman has thrown 188 passes without an interception, and needs only 12 more to break UCLA’s record for consecutive attempts without a pick. However, Utah’s defense leads the Pac-12 with 16 picks. No team from a Power Five conference has more.
The Utes have a solid lineup across their entire defense, but the most impressive part is the line. Starting defensive end Hunter Dimick has been limited by injuries this season, but Kylie Fitts — who played sparingly at UCLA in 2013 before transferring out the following August — has filled in nicely, notching 4.5 sacks and six pass breakups in eight starts. On the other side of the line is senior Jason Fanaika, who is second on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss. Continue reading
Josh Rosen’s potential has become clear to just about anyone who has watched even a little bit of UCLA football. In the latter half of the season, the true freshman has looked as good as any quarterback in the conference — and needs just 12 more passes to set a school record for consecutive attempts without an interception.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah — who once worked as a scout for the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles — weighed in on Rosen during a recent interview with FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman.
“I got a text from somebody that was at one of his games this year,” Jeremiah said. “I just pulled it up. He says, ‘Josh Rosen, he’d be the best college quarterback (in) 2016, 2017 and 2018. Wow.’ So, that’s kind of the reaction you get from people when they see him for the first time.
“It’s easy to spot. To pinpoint what exactly it is — it’s everything. It’s the package of what he is physically. The way the ball jumps out of his hand. … I just use the word pure. He’s just a pure passer. Continue reading
UCLA head coach Steve Alford talks about the Bruins’ 81-67 over Pepperdine, and how he feels about the team’s improvement through three games.