UCLA vs. Stanford Prediction, Game Preview

    UCLA vs. Stanford prediction and game preview. The Bruins and Cardinal both look to improve to 5-1 as they battle in Stanford Stadium.

    October 13, 2015

    The UCLA Bruins (4-1) travel north to The Farm to play the Stanford Cardinal (4-1) in a crucial Pac-12 showdown. Check out the UCLA vs. Stanford prediction and game preview.

    UCLA vs. Stanford Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Thursday, October 15
    Game Time: 10:30 ET
    Venue: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
    Network: ESPN

    Follow and/or Contact @Rich Cirminiello

    Why You Need To Care

    In the Pac-12 game of the week, the winner improves its playoff resume. The loser, in all likelihood, is out of the hunt.

    A second loss for one of these schools will be crushing, especially No. 18 UCLA, which has already dropped a league game and plays in the far deeper South Division. The Bruins used their bye week to get healthy and get beyond an improbable home loss to Arizona State. They’ll be extra grumpy since Stanford won last year’s meeting to keep the Bruins out of the Pac-12 title game.

    The Cardinal has been one of the nation’s hottest teams since flopping to Northwestern in the opener. It has won four in a row by double-digits, including at USC and by 38 points over Arizona before getting a Saturday off. Now ranked No. 15 nationally, Stanford is the heavy favorite to win the North Division, as well as the frontrunner to capture the conference.

    Why UCLA Will Win

    Even with injuries to three key starters, including LB Myles Jack, this will be the best defense Stanford has faced so far in 2015.

    With DT Kenny Clark generating a push up the middle, and the DBs cutting off passing lanes, the Bruins are giving up just 22 points per game. Safeties Jaleel Wadood and Randall Goforth headline a secondary that’ll make Kevin Hogan work for his completions this Thursday. And as Hogan has shown throughout his career, consistency is not his calling card. Plus, if UCLA RB Paul Perkins can keep the chains moving, it’s going to limit the number of times Hogan gets his hands on the ball.

    Why Stanford Will Win

    Nearly everything has been clicking for the Cardinal for the past month.

    Stanford has gone back to the basics to get back on track, dominating at the point of attack. And while UCLA presents a stiff challenge in the trenches, the Cardinal will not be intimidated. Behind G Joshua Garnett, C Graham Shuler and T Kyle Murphy, Stanford has rushed for more than 300 yards in back-to-back games. Meanwhile, the defense will cause fits for rookie QB Josh Rosen with athletic linemen Solomon Thomas, Brennan Scarlett and Aziz Shittu and linebackers Blake Martinez and Peter Kalambayi.

    Player Who Matters

    This is one of those games that Jack will really be missed by the Bruins for his ability to defend the run as well as the pass.

    Clark is terrific. But he was twice as effective with Jack cleaning up messes a level behind him. UCLA is now ninth in the league in run defense at 199 yards per game, which means there should be holes for rising Christian McCaffrey and shifty Barry Sanders. McCaffrey has heated up lately with three consecutive 100-yard games. Plus, without Jack to jump intermediate routes WR Devon Cajuste and TE Austin Hooper will be more dangerous in the middle of the field.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    UCLA is a solid all-around football team. But Stanford is healthier and playing at a different level at this stage of the season.

    David Shaw has engineered a remarkable turnaround since the opener, transforming the Cardinal back into title contenders. Meanwhile, the Bruins aren’t quite the same without Jack, DT Eddie Vanderdoes and CB Fabian Moreau. How can they be? Stanford will endure its toughest fight in a month, especially from Clark and Perkins, but it’ll ride its physicality up front and the backfield tandem of Hogan and McCaffrey to another statement victory.

    UCLA vs. Stanford Prediction

    Final Score: Stanford 37, UCLA 27, Line: Stanford -6.5, o/u: 54
    Must See Rating: 5: Trojan War, 1: The Muppets … 4.5

    MORE: College Football Bowl Projections After Week 6

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