UCLA game day links: Rivalry time

Josh Rosen (left) and Sam Darnold will face off for the first time Saturday when UCLA and USC renew their rivalry at the L.A. Coliseum. (Photos by Keith Birmingham/SCNG)

The second UCLA officially wrapped up its win against Arizona State last week, the focus shifted to Saturday’s rivalry game.

“Beat ‘SC! Beat ‘SC!” the crowd chanted at the Rose Bowl as the Bruins walked off the field.

UCLA will try to break a two-game losing skid against USC on Saturday at 5 p.m. and has it first chance of the year to secure bowl eligibility.

The game is on ABC with radio on AM 1150 or AM 570.

Links to all your necessary pregame reading:

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Pregame graph: Is UCLA’s rushing defense starting to improve?

UCLA defenders Nate Meadors (front, left), Adarius Pickett (center) and Colin Samuel (right) tackle Arizona State wide receiver Kyle Williams (10) for a loss of yards in the first half of a NCAA college football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

UCLA is still last in the country in rushing yards allowed at 302.3 yards per game and has already surpassed the school record for rushing yards allowed in a season with two games left, but Jim Mora said he is starting to see improvement.

The UCLA head coach pointed specifically to a decreasing number of big runs allowed in recent weeks. Indeed, the Bruins have allowed only five runs of 21 or more yards in the past four games and none longer than 37 yards. This defense allowed at least one run of 66 yards or longer in each of the first four games of the year.

So if UCLA has finally been able to cut down on the explosive plays, then why aren’t the Bruins taking bigger steps forward when it comes to its rushing defense?

Here’s a look at how teams have gained yardage on the ground against UCLA this year. Each game is broken down into runs of different length (from negative-yardage rushes to rushes of 21 yards or longer) and each bar represents the percentage of rushes during that game that went for each distance. For example, 12.6 percent of Texas A&M’s runs against the Bruins went for negative yardage (as shown by the first bright yellow bar).  Continue reading “Pregame graph: Is UCLA’s rushing defense starting to improve?” »

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