Stanford seeks 12th straight win against rival UCLA
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — After a sluggish stretch in September, Stanford looks to be rounding into form just in time for a matchup against the Cardinal’s favorite opponent in recent years.
Stanford has shaken off a three-game losing streak to win back-to-back games, including a victory over then-No. 15 ranked Washington, leading into Thursday night’s game against UCLA. The Cardinal (3-3, 2-2 Pac-12) have won 11 straight games in the series against the rival Bruins (1-5, 1-2).
“Winning last week was very big for our confidence and building momentum,” linebacker Gabe Reid said of the 23-13 win over Washington on Oct. 5. “We pride ourselves in how we play and felt like maybe the first quarter of the season didn’t really reflect our true potential. We’re looking forward to proving what a great defensive team we are.”
Little went right for Stanford during a stretch of three straight double-digit losses in September to Southern California, Central Florida and Oregon as injuries on the offensive line and at quarterback hampered the offense.
But little has gone wrong for the Cardinal the past decade against the Bruins. They have won every meeting since 2009, with only one of those games decided by fewer than seven points. UCLA had never lost more than seven straight to any opponent before this skid started.
“It’s irrelevant to this game,” Bruins coach Chip Kelly said. “The game four years ago shouldn’t matter in this game. It can’t be a psychological factor if no one talks about it.”
Here are some things to watch:
SIGNAL CALLER PART I
Kelly didn’t announce a starting quarterback for this game with Dorian Thompson-Robinson working his way back from an ankle injury suffered Sept. 28 against Arizona. Thompson-Robinson was replaced in the lineup by Austin Burton the following week in a 48-31 loss to Oregon State but has been back at practice leading up to the game against Stanford. Thompson-Robinson has 11 TD passes and has run for two more scores this season.
SIGNAL CALLER PART II
The Cardinal also are dealing with injuries at quarterback with starter K.J. Costello out once again with a thumb injury and backup Davis Mills is out with a calf injury. That clears the way for Jack West to get his first start. West is 1 for 5 for 4 yards during three career games for Stanford.
“Jack West can do everything in this offense,” coach David Shaw said. “If he has to play against UCLA, he’ll go out there and play well.”
Stanford has suffered another injury on the already thin offensive line with Henry Hattis now out for the season. Star left tackle Walker Little was lost to a season-ending injury in the season opener and senior Devery Hamilton is also sidelined but could return later this year. Stanford has only seven offensive linemen and will likely start three freshmen this week with Jake Hornibrook expected to join Walter Rouse and Barrett Miller in the lineup.
“It’s been fun to watch,” Shaw said of the development of the young linemen. “We thought we were going to watch it happen in practice; we just happen to be watching it during games. Every day is a new learning experience.”
BELL COW BACK
With the problems at quarterback, the Cardinal have relied heavily on senior running back Cameron Scarlett. He is coming off the best game of his career with 33 carries for 151 yards and a TD against Washington. Scarlett leads the Pac-12 with 564 yards rushing on 127 carries and also has 13 catches for 138 yards.
BIG PLAY BACK
One of the bright spots this season for UCLA has been the play of running back Demetric Felton. He had a 75-yard TD run against Oregon State for his school-record fourth score of at least 75 yards this season. He also had a 75-yard TD catch against Cincinnati, a 94-yard TD catch against Washington State and a 100-yard kickoff return for a score against Washington State. Felton had nine catches against the Beavers, tying the school record for a running back, and has 31 receptions overall, five shy of George Farmer’s single-season school record set in 1969.