Payton could be in for a big day in Boulder, against a Colorado secondary that ranks 98th in the nation. The Bruins’ wide receiver has had two relatively quiet weeks, despite finding the end zone twice. Payton has caught 11 balls for 108 yards in the last two games. His 47 receiving yards in last week’s win over Cal was his lowest of the season. UCLA needs Payton to step up and play a big game Saturday. Opportunities will be there, too. Colorado has given up 22 pass touchdowns in The Brett Hundley-to-Payton combo for UCLA should look to get going early. USC scored 28 points in the first half against Colorado, so there’s no reason UCLA can’t get close to that number.
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Intangible: UCLA coach Jim Mora
When the season began, the Bruins were considered to be a national contender. Two losses and five wins later, UCLA appears to be close to getting it all settled down, just in time for the stretch run. While making the College Football Playoff most definitely will be difficult, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. “We can’t lose another one and be in the picture,” Mora said Wednesday on Jay Mohr Sports. “Our goal is getting to the Pac 12 Championship game and it’s going to be a grind to do it.” The grind started last week, coach.
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Across the Field: Colorado QB Sefo Liufau
Luifau has been a high-risk, high-reward player this season. The Buffaloes’ quarterback has thrown 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. He’s thrown an interception in all but one of Colorado’s seven games played. UCLA is catching Luifau at a great time, too. The sophomore quarterback had one of his worst games ever last week against USC, throwing for 143 yards on 35 attempts with two touchdowns and two interceptions. "It's just frustrating watching it back on film," Luifau said Tuesday, via the Denver Post. "That's a good learning tool. But it's just frustrating that you let your team down. That's what I take heart in the most, letting my teammates down." You can be sure that Luifau won't want a repeat performance of what happened against USC.
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Prediction: UCLA 49, Colorado 21
UCLA cannot afford a letdown this week, especially if Mora has thoughts of winning out. Take advantage of teams that are struggling. Colorado is one of those teams right now. The Buffs allowed 56 points last week to USC. Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler threw for a school-record seven touchdowns in the win. Brett Hundley won’t throw for seven touchdowns, but he could throw for three or four while adding one or two via the ground game. Colorado is a downtrodden team. UCLA is on the upswing after beating Cal last week in Berkeley. Mora and his Bruins will walk away with their heads held high after this one.