With a date against its division-leading rivals a few weeks
away, No. 25 UCLA can’t afford to look ahead if it hopes to make
another trip to the Pac-12 championship game.
First, the Bruins will look to snap a five-game skid against a
24th-ranked Arizona team that’s coming into Saturday night’s
matchup at the Rose Bowl off its biggest win of the season.
“U of A is a good team,” Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley said.
“They’ve shown it, and we have to be ready to play.”
The Bruins kicked a field goal as time expired to earn a 45-43
victory at Arizona State last week, while Arizona (5-3, 2-3 Pac-12)
came from 15 points down to upset 10th-ranked USC 39-36.
Arizona’s victory also gave UCLA’s division title hopes a boost.
The Bruins (6-2, 3-2), now just a half-game behind USC – which
hosts No. 2 Oregon on Saturday – in the division, have to continue
to take care of business with a home game against the Trojans on
The biggest challenge for UCLA comes on defense as it attempts
to slow down an explosive Arizona attack that has averaged 43.5
points over its last four games since being shut out at Oregon on
The Bruins have allowed 40 points or more in two of their last
three games and gave up 535 yards to the Sun Devils last week. As a
result, the unit has fallen near the bottom of the Pac-12 in
opponent completion percentage (63.6) and quarterback rating
That could spell trouble against Arizona’s Matt Scott, who ranks
third in the nation in passing yards with 2,724 and is tied for
10th with 20 touchdowns. Scott accounted for 469 total yards and
four touchdowns in the Wildcats’ win over the Trojans.
Austin Hill, Scott’s primary target, is coming off a 10-catch,
259-yard performance against USC. He ranks fifth nationally with
937 yards receiving and has seven touchdowns.
Ka’Deem Carey, meanwhile, gives Arizona a nice option on the
ground. The sophomore ranks second in the Pac-12 with 12 rushing
touchdowns and third with 120.1 yards per game.
“They go fast and furious and they score a lot of points,” UCLA
coach Jim Mora said. “So we have our work cut out for us.”
Johnathan Franklin, the Pac-12 leader with 1,042 rushing yards,
leads a Bruins offense that ranks third in the conference with
502.9 yards per game. The senior needs 20 yards to become UCLA’s
all-time leading rusher after finishing with 164 yards and two
touchdowns against Arizona State.
“He’s one of the best backs, probably in the country, definitely
in the Pac-12,” Arizona defensive lineman Tevin Hood said. “He’s a
hard runner. With the lead option and lead zone they run, we need
to focus on keeping up with him and Hundley. We can’t have any
holes in the defense.”
Hundley has shown plenty of promise in his first season, having
already broken the program’s freshman record with 18 touchdown
passes. Hundley completed 19 of 29 for 274 yards and four scores
against the Sun Devils.
Ka’imi Fairbairn’s game-winning 33-yard field goal made UCLA
bowl-eligible in October for the first time since 2005.
“It’s nice to know when things are on the line, we can move the
ball and get our kicker in position for a game-winning field
goal,” Hundley said. “During the drive, I didn’t really think much
Hundley should be able to find more opportunities this week
against an Arizona defense that has surrendered 316.4 passing yards
– last in the Pac-12 – and 31.1 points per game.
UCLA hasn’t beaten Arizona since 2006, including a 48-12 rout
last season that included a bench-clearing brawl.