After a massive UCLA win over crosstown rival Southern Cal, the Bruins probably shouldn’t get too excited because the 2012 season is still three games away from being over.
And given the way this Bruins team has played? Given the fact that they’re 4-0 after their bye week and on a five-game win streak that includes wins over Southern Cal, then-24th-ranked Arizona, and Arizona State in Tempe? This team could realistically win out, earning a 12-2 record on the season which would include a Rose Bowl win over the Big 10 champion, which would probably be Nebraska (a team UCLA beat in the second week of the season).
Baby steps, though, because this UCLA team will have to go through Stanford to even begin thinking about this path.
And that won’t be a tall task. The Cardinal held the nation’s most prolific offense in Oregon to 14 points in both regulation and overtime, while limiting the Ducks — which averages 540 yards of total offense a game in 2012 — to 405 yards of offense. The Ducks were slowed to 77 plays of offense (they average around 84) and held possible Heisman contender Kenjon Barner to 66 yards on the ground.
This wasn’t an anomaly. The Tree’s defense has been phenomenal all season, proving to be the best in the Pac-12.
Of course, UCLA presents a similar problem for Stanford. Despite having an incredibly young offensive line that allows multiple sacks per game, the Bruins still rival Oregon’s offense in every facet and even surpass them in the passing game.
With that, there are quite a few numbers to crunch, and we all know you nerds love numbers.
Here are some key stats to look at heading into a massive game against the Cardinal:
281.2 Passing Yards Per Game – UCLA
UCLA is 30th in the nation in yards thrown through the air per contest. With Brett Hundley proving to be one of the best freshmen quarterbacks in the country, the Bruins’ passing game has become lethal. And, one could argue, that Hundley is the best freshman passer in the game, where Marcus Mariota and Johnny Manziel (of Oregon and Texas A&M respectively) have become runners first.
Meanwhile, Stanford’s defense has had an issue with air attacks led by mobile quarterbacks this season, notably in their victory Arizona in overtime, the Wildcats still earned 48 points that game and narrowly walked away with a win behind Matt Scott’s brilliant performance. Of course, Arizona lost due to their inability to defend anything.
Stanford will meet its match in Brett Hundley who, despite being sacked a whopping 36 times this season, still completes damn near 70 percent of his passes and averages 270 yards through the air.
Essentially, the Cardinal will go up against the most versatile passing offense in the Pac-12, at least since Arizona. Except this time, the Tree will be faced with a competent defense. Speaking of which …
78th In The Nation In Total Offense – Stanford
It’s no secret that Stanford isn’t very good offensively. The Cardinal average just 381 yards of total offense per game, which puts them close to the bottom quarter of the 124 FBS teams.
Even worse, the Cardinal are 88th in the country in passing yards per game (211 yards through the air a contest), and while UCLA’s secondary has been destroyed at times this season, they’ve proven to take advantage of teams with inferior air attacks (most notably Utah, Colorado, and Rice).
Of course, they did manage to turn in a few explosive offensive performances … against Arizona (124th in total defense), Duke (97th in total defense) and Colorado (120th in total defense). These have wound up to be the three worst defensive teams Stanford has faced and against the fourth-worst (Cal), the Tree managed to earn just 21 points.
UCLA’s defense is pretty bend-don’t-break, ranking just 70th in total defense, but allow just 25 points a game (good for top-50 in the country).
The 15th-Best Rushing Attack Vs. The Top Rushing Defense
While UCLA has done a fantastic job of destroying teams on the ground behind Heisman candidate Johnathan Franklin, Stanford has done an incredible job of keeping explosive rushing attacks in check. Most recently, Kenjon Barner averaged just 3.1 yards a carry against Stanford in Eugene, OR. Indeed, the Cardinal have allowed the least ground yards per game in the country at just 71.5 yards a contest.
There’s no reason to believe UCLA will rely just on running the ball, but it seems as if the ground game is the staple for the offense.
Johnathan Franklin will be tested mightily, meaning UCLA might be content in running screens and using that as a de facto ground game to get the elusive running back in space.