STANFORD, Calif. — David Shaw trusted his defense, and it rewarded him.
The Stanford head coach stuck to his conservative playbook on the way to a 24-10 win at home, handing No. 9 UCLA its first loss of the season and perhaps dashing the Bruins’ BCS bowl hopes.
Cardinal safety Jordan Richards picked off quarterback Brett Hundley twice, with his second coming with just 2:40 left on the game clock. Stanford ran the ball five straight times, scoring 58 seconds later on tailback Tyler Gaffney’s four-yard score — his second touchdown of the game. Continue reading
UCLA needs a win over Stanford to firmly seize a spot on the national stage. Can the Bruins pull it off?
UCLA offense vs. Stanford defense:
Stanford’s defense isn’t quite what it was used to be, giving up 22.2 points per game after allowing 18.8 over the past three seasons.
On its way to three straight BCS bowls, the Cardinal finished either first or second in the conference in scoring defense, and No. 9 nationally during the 2010 campaign. This year, the team is fifth in the Pac-12. However, much of that is due to the rest of the conference ticking up: Four teams in the league are holding opponents to below 20.0 points per game. Only four Pac-12 teams had done the same in the previous four years combined. Continue reading
No. 9 UCLA (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at No. 13 Stanford (5-1, 3-1)
Location: Stanford Stadium, Oct. 19, 12:30 p.m.
TV: ABC/ESPN2 (Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)
Last meeting: The Bruins need no reminders. UCLA’s 27-24 loss at Stanford in last year’s Pac-12 Championship game was sealed when Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 52-yard field goal attempt fell short in the rain — keeping the team from its first Rose Bowl berth since 1999.
Key storylines: Most of UCLA’s roster clearly remember the back-to-back losses to the Cardinal last November, whether they admit using it as motivation or not. Continue reading
That 52-yard miss from last year’s Pac-12 Championship loss? Ka’imi Fairbairn doesn’t think about it much.
“Every kick’s the same kick,” the UCLA kicker said. “We have a 24-hour rule. You learn from it, and you move on.”
He’s practiced that field goal from the left hash over and over in the months since that 27-24 loss to Stanford. Even if the miss no longer gnaws at him, some heroics this Saturday at the Farm could help fans forget it too.
Fairbairn also has no complaints about new longsnapper Chris Longo and holder Jerry Neuheisel. If there’s been a drop-off from the mechanical efficiency of the Kevin McDermott-Jeff Locke duo, Fairbairn insists he hasn’t noticed. Continue reading
A taste of freshman Myles Jack’s versatility, by the numbers: 32 tackles, second-best on the UCLA roster; seven passes defended, fourth in the Pac-12 and first among linebackers; a 43-yard interception return that could have easily been an 88-yard touchdown.
Against Stanford this weekend, he’ll try and show off another dimension of his game.
“They’ve proven that they can go out and overpower people,” Jack said. “I’m kind of looking forward to a different type of game, just to show people that I can hold my own against a dominant line like Stanford’s.”
Back in 2010, linebacker Jordan Zumwalt decommitted from Stanford just before Signing Day, switching to UCLA and staying closer to home. The Huntington Beach native has yet to beat the Cardinal, losing four games by an average of 20.5 points.
Saturday’s 12:30 kickoff may be his last shot to Stanford — though the game no longer comes with a chance to spoil the Cardinal’s undefeated record.
“I’m actually bummed Utah beat them,” Zumwalt said. “I wanted that to be us.”
– Many Bruins still have last year’s back-to-back Stanford games fresh in their minds: UCLA’s 35-17 loss at home followed by a 27-24 heartbreaker in the Pac-12 Championship. Head coach Jim Mora is trying to make sure it doesn’t become their primary focus this weekend.
“I hope that — I think somewhere deep down in their psyche is payback, payback, payback,” he said. “But if you make that your main motivation, I think you make a mistake. You have to focus on this game, this year, and what it’s going to take to win this game, this year.”
His role as a coach will be to talk to the team the right way in order to instill calm heading into the weekend.
“You don’t necessarily whip them into a frenzy on a Tuesday,” Mora said. “You let it slowly build so you create the right mindset going into a game.”
– Defensive end Ellis McCarthy is expected to play at Stanford after sitting out last Saturday with a head injury. Continue reading
UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks, currently fifth in the Pac-12 with 47 tackles, is eager to face a more physical team in Stanford. The Cardinal are the 116th in the country with 23.5 pass attempts per game, throwing on just 37.6 percent of their offensive downs.
“We’ve got to be able to hit them in the nose,” Kendricks said.