A week ago, UCLA looked like a triumphant football program.
It had just beaten BYU, overcoming a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit for the first time in 52 games. It had done so despite an ugly night for quarterback Josh Rosen, who threw three interceptions and looked nothing like the freshman phenom he appeared to be in his career opener. And, the next morning, it emerged at No. 9 in the Associated Press poll — becoming the conference’s highest-ranked team for the first time in over a decade.
But two injuries later, and the Bruins’ outlook suddenly looks a lot less rosy. After already losing defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes to a torn ACL, the team is now without cornerback Fabian Moreau (foot) and linebacker Myles Jack (knee) for the rest of the season.
A visit to No. 16 Arizona on Saturday gives UCLA a chance to prove that, even shorthanded, it remains a contender.
When UCLA has the ball
Rosen’s dreadful night at the Rose Bowl last Saturday could someday end up being a turning point in his career, a retrospective reminder that greatness needs an incubation period.
For now, it’s more a sign that even a talented true freshman is still a freshman. The 18-year-old will only improve as he figures out what chances he should or shouldn’t take on the field, but in the meantime, the Bruins’ offense is still in good shape. This is a veteran group that can afford its quarterback some time to catch up to the learning curve. Continue reading
No. 9 UCLA Bruins (3-0) at No. 16 Arizona Wildcats (3-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 26, 5 p.m., Arizona Stadium (Tucson, Ariz.)
TV: ABC (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox)
Radio: AM 570 (Bill Roth, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)
Scouting report: Will Scooby Wright return from his knee injury in time for Arizona’s first big game of the season? The All-American linebacker won a slew of awards as a sophomore, but injured his knee in the season opener. He practiced today for the first time in two weeks. … A 3-3-5 defense that relies on its secondary lost four players from that unit who combined for 24 pass breakups, eight interceptions, and seven sacks. … In 2014, the Wildcats sat just outside the national top-25 in offensive yards (463.6 per game), but fell to No. 57 in yards per play (5.7). They are ranked sixth in the FBS in both categories through three games this season, albeit against unimpressive competition in UTSA, Nevada and Northern Arizona. … Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is 0-3 against Jim Mora. UCLA is the only Pac-12 South team he has yet to beat.
Series history: UCLA leads the all-time series with a 22-15-2 edge over Arizona, with the two ties occurring in 1928 and 1982. The Bruins lost five straight to the Wildcats before hiring Jim Mora, and have since racked up a 114-43 scoring margin through three wins.
QB Anu Solomon, RSo., 6-2, 205 — 71/104, 778 yards, 10 TD, 15 carries, 43 yards, 1 TD
— Not being asked to air the ball out quite as much this season. He averaged 38.6 attempts per game last season, twice topping 70, but has dropped to 34.7 through three games. Continue reading
Now No. 9 in the country, UCLA is the top-ranked team in the Pac-12 for the first time in 14 years.
The last time the Bruins paced the conference was Oct. 21, 2001, when they were ranked fourth and received a first-place vote. However, they then lost four straight games and finished the season unranked with seven wins.
It’s difficult to imagine this UCLA team heading for that type of collapse. Its 24-23 win over BYU on Saturday night showed the team’s resilience, holding on for a victory despite numerous mistakes and personnel losses.
Next up for the Bruins is another top-20 matchup. They travel to No. 16 Arizona this Saturday for a 5 p.m. kickoff on ABC.
See the full AP poll below. Continue reading
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 20, 2015
After holding off No. 19 BYU last night, UCLA is now firmly planted in the national spotlight.
The team will play Arizona on ABC this coming Saturday at 5 p.m., with ESPN College GameDay setting up in Tucson for the Bruins’ second straight top-20 matchup.