We continue our premature look at the 2012 UCLA football schedule by looking at our week four match-up against Oregon State at home in the Rose Bowl. Check out some of our earlier previews on Rice, Nebraska, and Houston.
UCLA will begin its in-conference schedule against Oregon State at the Rose Bowl. Last season, UCLA managed to win on the road, the only time our Bruins managed to do so in 2011. Shameful, I know, but nowhere near as shameful as it was for OSU to give up a loss on the road to such an awful, awful road team and a very mediocre team overall in our UCLA Bruins. The OSU fan-base is getting frustrated with Mike Riley and pundits have Riley on the hot seat in 2012.
In essence, OSU is a terrible team (no offense, though, Beaver Nation), and this is coming from a fan of a team that had the first 6-8 record in college football history. UCLA’s season will collapse from the inside out if the Bruins suffer a loss here.
And things aren’t getting much better for OSU. The team is slated for around five wins — or less, really — and will have to play on the road against teams that they possibly have a chance against, including UCLA.
Oregon State Offense vs. UCLA Defense
OSU, statistically, is a “very good” passing team offensively, but that per-game number — 287 yards a game through the air — is inflated because when you’re constantly down by more than two touchdowns, you’re going to be pretty damn pass-happy late in games to try and play catch-up while the opposing defense checks out because they think you’re shit. (Trust me, OSU fans, we UCLA fans know.)
But let’s not discount their passing game, led by now-sophomore QB Sean Mannion, who threw two more interceptions than he did touchdowns with 16 scores and 18 picks. And although those numbers aren’t great, he was terribly inexperienced last year (he was a freshman, remember) and so were members of the entire offensive unit, which was riddled with injuries in 2011. Let’s also remember that most of their squad will be back with only their second-best receiver leaving.
So this offense, inflated passing yards and 118th-ranked rushing attack be damned, should be pretty good, or at least a hell of a lot better than last season. The match-ups don’t exactly work in UCLA’s favor either, since — as we’ve been slamming our fist over and over in frustration from having to explain this repeatedly –UCLA’s secondary is paper-thin and will be filled with freshmen likely to take over some starting spots.
So if the OSU offense is pass-heavy and was as good as their desperation-passing-time performances seemed to be, UCLA’s defense could have some serious trouble.
We can’t tell if that’s the case, though, and the offense is still incredibly one-dimensional while the entire team is largely unproven to a degree. They also still ranked in the bottom 20 in points scored.
If UCLA’s supposed-to-be-vaunted frontline can get into the backfield and cause discomfort, you can expect the OSU offense to collapse.
At least, that’s the plan.
OSU Defense vs. UCLA Offense
And you thought the OSU offense was bad?
The Beaver’s defensive unit is easily one of the worst in the country and ranked 89th in the nation in points allowed. They were also one of the least effective defenses against the rush, allowing damn near 200 yards per game on the ground and the cause of that was because the defensive line was pretty mediocre, to a degree.
The Beavers’ strong-point in 2011 — which will look to carry over in 2012 — will be their secondary, which was healthy and should be at the same level this season. Although not great — by any stretch — they can improve and become a nuisance, at the very least.
The UCLA offense will still be predicated on running, though, or at least should be against a largely unproven front seven in Corvallis, Oregon. Johnathan Franklin — who we think could be the Pac-12′s leading rusher in 2012 — is on the Doak Award Watchlist this year and could be a serious force to be reckoned with this season.
Overall, we can’t see the OSU defense putting up much of a fight here, even if we are pretty inept offensively.
Prediction: UCLA 38, OSU 17
This game better be a blowout, or the UCLA fan-base — including myself — will bring a shit-storm upon the UCLA coaching staff. Oregon is at the bottom of the Pac-12 and has struggled mightily in recent years while UCLA will finally implement a useful offense while also having hard-nosed coaching to discipline them further defensively (so they can, y’know, tackle correctly).
Through week four, we predict UCLA will win at home against OSU and start the season with a “Wow, really, no stupid losses so far?”-record at 3-1.