UCLA is set to take on the ASU Sun Devils in Tempe, AZ, in just two days.
The Bruins (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) are coming off a bye week while Arizona State (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) is coming off acting like they were on a bye week against Oregon, with the Ducks earning a 43-21 shellacking in a game that was over by the beginning of the second quarter.
Of course, ASU had some success prior to the game and, even if you’re including the loss to Oregon, are still 5-2 in 2012.
They’ve also put up some gaudy numbers and numbers that look a tad more impressive than UCLA’s numbers. Let’s go over them.
ASU is No. 1 in the nation in pass defense, UCLA is No. 26 in the nation in passing offense. This is pretty shocking, all things considered. First, that Arizona State’s passing defense is tops in the nation — ahead of Alabama, who’s number two on that list — and second, that UCLA is 26th in passing offense, a ranking that feels a lot lower considering UCLA likes to throw passes behind the line of scrimmage.
Arizona State is allowing just 127.3 passing yards a game, a shocking statistic considering the Sun Devils have blown out four teams this season, which would normally force opponents to frantically toss the ball downfield in desperate attempts to climb back in.
UCLA could have their work cut out for them, but these stats might be a tad misleading. ASU hasn’t played a decent opponent outside of Oregon and Missouri — their two losses — and could be benefiting from a weak schedule to start.
ASU allows a 35 percent third-down conversion percentage (30th in the nation); UCLA converts 38 percent of third-downs on offense (70th in the nation). One of the most maddening aspects of this UCLA team is that they have a difficult time converting on third-downs offensively. This is confirmed by their third-down conversion percentage, which is mediocre enough for a lower-half ranking nationally.
Meanwhile, Arizona State seems competent at getting teams off the field relatively quickly. Again, they’ve only played one potent offense in Oregon, and in that game, that Arizona State defense was as humiliated as a high schooler who just found out he/she was forced to go to ASU.
It’s difficult to say whether ASU’s defensive success can continue against a UCLA offense that’s still respectable, even if it’s not converting enough on third down.
Arizona State is 113th in redzone scoring percentage; UCLA is 19th in redzone scores allowed (touchdowns and field goals) per game. I left something out, admittedly: UCLA’s redzone defense is actually pretty terrible, allowing 81.33 percent of all redzone scoring attempts to end with either a field goal or touchdown, which is 72nd in the nation.
Of course, the Bruins don’t allow teams in the redzone very often, which explains why the amount of redzone scores allowed is so low; they only allow teams inside the redzone an average of 2.6 times per game, which is 12th-best in the country.
To counter that, though, Arizona State gets in the redzone 5.3 times per game, good enough for 7th best in the country.
To sum up all these numbers, Arizona State gets inside the 20 yard line constantly, but rarely scores. On the other hand, UCLA rarely allows teams inside the 20-yard line, but when they do, the opponent usually scores.
Sounds like fun.
More stats on the next page.