Stanford vs. UCLA Prediction, Game Preview

    Stanford vs. UCLA prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Cardinal and Bruins.

    September 19, 2016

    Stanford vs. UCLA prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Cardinal and Bruins.


    Stanford vs. UCLA Game Preview

    When: Saturday, Sept. 24 – 8:00 p.m. ET
    Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
    TV Broadcast: ABC

    Dear Jim Mora, be sure to always have someone covering Christian McCaffrey. After a bye week following its Week 1 win over Kansas State, Stanford went up against USC and put it to the Trojans, 27-10, who apparently forgot how electric McCaffrey is. The Heisman candidate broke open the game with a 56-yard touchdown reception from Ryan Burns, a route out of the backfield that was uncovered. The Cardinal held the Trojans to three points in the first half and threw quarterback Max Browne off his groove while keeping him from connecting with JuJu Smith-Schuster deep. 

    The Bruins aren’t sporting a spotless record like Stanford, but their only blemish was nearly a win. After falling to Texas A&M in overtime to open the season, UCLA has rattled off back-to-back wins against UNLV and BYU. The Bruins took down the Cougars in Week 3, but BYU nearly came back with 14 unanswered points. 

    UCLA leads the all-time series, 45-38-3, but has lost the last eight meetings against the Stanford. The last time the Bruins defeated the Cardinal was in 2008, when they edged out the game, 23-20.

    What To Know About Stanford

    David Shaw’s team will do whatever it can, whenever it can, to get McCaffrey the ball. When he gets in space, he kicks it into another gear and breaks for daylight. McCaffrey ran for 172 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries last weekend while having caught three passes for 66 yards and a score. The one kick he returned went for 22 yards. Burns did throw an interception on a ball that drifted to Francis Owusu’s inside shoulder, but it was picked off by Adoree’ Jackson, one of the game’s top defensive backs. Had Burns placed it on Owusu’s outside shoulder, it would’ve been a big gain for Stanford. Burns still finished with 102 yards and a touchdown on 8-of-14 passing.

    What to Know About UCLA

    Josh Rosen was picked off halfway through the first quarter on Saturday, but managed to finish the game with 307 yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-40 passing. He has great awareness in the pocket and can make all the throws on the route tree. He and Darren Andrews have developed some chemistry, too. The redshirt junior wide receiver caught four passes for 91 yards and a touchdown against the Cougars. Andrews was one of 12 players to have a reception. If Rosen is in rhythm and spreading the ball around, he’s extremely difficult to contain. 

    Advantages

    Offense: This is closer than you might believe it is. Rosen hasn’t had the start to the season he’s capable of having, but he’s still on track to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. But McCaffrey is too big of a factor for UCLA to match. He does it all, and he’s the reason why Stanford gets the edge.

    Defense: UCLA gets the advantage here. It absolutely wrecked the BYU offensive line and was constantly breathing down Taysom Hill’s neck. The Bruins also held Jamaal Williams to 28 rushing yards on 14 carries. 

    Special Teams: Once again, McCaffrey gives the nod to the Cardinal. If there is any team stupid enough to kick the ball to No. 5, he’ll cash in. McCaffrey has the best vision and elusiveness in the nation. He has great balance and can accelerate in and out of his cuts like nobody’s business. He’s lethal in the return game.

    Coaching: Mora is no slouch, but David Shaw is playing chess to everyone else’s checkers right now. He knows how to utilize McCaffrey and get him into the open field. Mora is skilled offensively, too, but Shaw has been more efficient with his weapons this season. 

    Matchup To Watch

    Josh Rosen vs. Christian McCaffrey

    This isn’t your typical matchup, considering they play different positions on offense, but this one could easily come down to whichever one has a bigger game. If Rosen is dropping dimes in a bucket, Stanford will have an uphill battle to climb defensively. Having said that, if Burns can swing the ball out to McCaffrey in the flats and even find his running back down the sideline like he did versus USC, the Bruins’ pass rush will be neutralized. Quick reads for Burns and cutback lanes for McCaffrey could lead to a monster game. Whichever star performs better could decide the game. 

    Stanford vs. UCLA Betting Odds

    Spread: Stanford -3
    Over/Under: 47.5

    Stanford vs. UCLA Prediction

    McCaffrey is going to go off yet again. UCLA has developed a solid reputation for producing NFL linebackers, but there isn’t a single soul on that defense capable of containing McCaffrey. He’ll pick up more than 100 rushing yards while teetering on the 100-receiving-yards mark. Rosen will be dominant as well, but he’ll make one mistake, and that will be the difference in the game. Burns will dink and dunk most of the time, and when Shaw tells him to fling it long, he’ll deliver. Stanford will surrender the lead once early on but will recapture it and hang on for the win. 

    Stanford vs. UCLA Score Prediction: Stanford 48, UCLA 41

    MORE: 1-128 College Football Rankings – Week 4

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