In the second season of the Jim Mora era, the UCLA Bruins begin their toughest and most important two-game road trip in recent memory. Today, they play at Stanford, and that is followed next Saturday by a game in Eugene, Ore. The pundits originally viewed today’s game as a warm-up for a Stanford team that had been ranked number five in the nation, before their unexpected loss to Utah last week, a Utah team that the Bruins had defeated only a week earlier. Those pundits had labeled the Nov. 7 Stanford-Oregon game the “PAC-12 Showdown of the season”. If the Bruins win today, that label gets attached to the Bruins-Ducks’ game which becomes the most important game in UCLA football annals since 1998′s infamous Hurricane Make-up game against Miami.
Stanford has always given the Bruins fits, however, and goes into today’s game with a five-game winning streak against UCLA. Also, the Cardinal has not lost two in a row since 2009. Bruin fans have last season etched indelibly in their brains, as Stanford beat UCLA
UCLA Bruins Helmet
|in the final regular season game, and followed that up six days later by again beating the Bruins in the PAC-12 Championship game.
It’s time to start a new streak, and to finally erase some of the memories of 1998, when a 10-0 Bruins’ team was one win away from playing for the national Championship.
Injuries on the offensive line and to tailback Jordon James have significantly hurt the Bruins’ running game, and they need James to
be healthy enough to play today and a better performance from back-up Paul Perkins than his 14-for-36 last week against California. A key to the Bruins success this season (and last) has been their balanced attack, and while Stanford has not been quite as dominant on defense this season as last, in part because of their own injuries to defensive linemen Henry Anderson, Ben Gardner, David Parry, and Ikenna Nwafor, it would be asking a lot of Brett Hundley to expect him to do it all basically on his own. Against Cal, yes, against
Stanford, they need to be able to mix it up.
The Bruins defensive font needs to put pressure on Stanford QB Kevin Hogan, who has only been sacked seven times this season, and who has completed twice as many pass plays of 10 or more
yards in six games this season than in the five games he started last season.
And thank the tv gods that the game is on ABC and not the horrendous, unaccessible PAC-12 Network.