Stanford (2-0, 1-0) at UCLA (2-1, 0-0)
When: Saturday, September 24th 2016
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ABC
The UCLA Bruins open up their Pac-12 schedule on Saturday night with a battle against the Stanford Cardinal, who are already 1-0 in conference play. UCLA’s defense played a big part in their 17-14 road win at BYU on Saturday and will need that same type of defense this week to stop the best running back in College Football – Christian McCaffrey. The Bruins held the Cougars to just 23 rushing yards last week, but failed to stop McCaffrey last season as the Heisman Trophy candidate ran for 243 yards and four touchdowns, while collecting 369 all-purpose yards. Quarterback Josh Rosen, who opened the season with mixed results against Texas A&M and UNLV, threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns against BYU. Rosen posted his eighth career 300-yard passing performance last Saturday while completing passes to 12 different receivers including Darren Andrews, who led the Bruins with four catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. UCLA’s depth at running back includes Nate Starks, Bolu Olorunfunmi (2 TDs) and leading rusher Soso Jamabo (181 yards), who did not suit up for last week’s game for an undisclosed reason but is expected to play Saturday. The defense is led by Eddie Vanderdoes and Eli Ankou along with linebacker Jayon Brown, who ranks among the league’s leading tacklers at 7.7 per game.
McCaffrey has gone over 200 all-purpose yards in eight straight games for the Cardinal, who relied heavily on their star in last week’s 27-10 win over USC. “In my opinion, it’s not even arguable that he’s the top player in college football,” UCLA coach Jim Mora told reporters. McCaffrey leads the Pac-12 in rushing and all-purpose yards with 149 and 235 yards per game, respectively. Senior quarterback Ryan Burns has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for the Cardinal, who are seeking their ninth straight win over the Bruins. Stanford’s running attack also features backup Bryce Love, who ran for 51 yards on 11 carries in his season debut last week. Safety Zach Hoffpauir has recorded a team-high 11 tackles to lead the defense, which allowed Rosen to throw for 325 yards and three touchdowns last October but could see the return of Harrison Phillips after the nose tackle missed last week’s game due to a knee injury.
We know what Stanford is all about – Christian McCaffrey and a solid defense. I can’t figure out if UCLA is good or not. They hung with Texas A&M in the opener and the defense was good against BYU, but facing a strong offense gives them fits. McCaffrey ran all over this team last year and I think he does it again. It’s almost impossible to stop him right now. I’ll call for a big road win for the Cardinal.
Pick: Stanford -3