UCLA’S NEXT OPPONENT: Arizona State Sun Devils, Rose Bowl, November 5th, 4:30 p.m.
For UCLA’s Bruins, after beating the Cal Bears in a convincing fashion, the difficult part in the aftermath is maintaining that positive momentum and showing everybody that the win over their older Berkeley brothers was not a lucky fluke.
Being that the Arizona State Sun Devils, who are currently leading the Pac-12 Southern Division, on the fast track to the Pac-12 Conference’s inaugural championship game on December 2nd, and are the Bruins’ upcoming opponent, that will be no easy task.
At all, as these maroon and gold-clad Sun Devils from the Phoenix suburb of Tempe are good.
Top 25 level good, as they are ranked 20th in the AP poll and 19th in the BCS poll.
So good that I pegged this game to be the Bruins’ toughest outside of USC before the season began.
Two players stand out for ASU, that have given UCLA fits and will provide a major challenge this coming Saturday afternoon…
Brock Ostweiler established himself as the Sun Devil quarterback the last time his team and UCLA’s met, when he came off the bench after an injury to starter Steven Threet and proceeded to put up a 55 spot on the Bruins, ending whatever post season hopes they had.
In his last outing this past Saturday against Colorado, Ostweiler threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-14 rout. On the season, the 6′ 8″ QB has completed 68% of his passes for 2,275 yards and 17 TDs – that’s what coordinator Joe Tresey’s defense has to face.
The other standout player for Arizona State is the perfect combination of monster and beast: linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who’s the key to the Sun Devils’ defense with his vicious hits and wild man style of play. His six tackles for loss and four sacks lead coach Dennis Erickson’s team, and the Bruins will need to be very conscious and concerned about him.
And on top of everything else, Burfict’s a sure NFL first rounder to boot.
Believe it or not, UCLA can tie ASU for the lead in the Pac-12 South with a win, so this will obviously be a big game for the Bruins, and an important test to gauge where they are at against one of the conference’s best teams.
There will also likely be a considerably bigger crowd at the Rose Bowl than the just-over 55,600 fans that saw UCLA beat Cal.
If coach Rick Neuheisel and his Bruin bunch can play like they did against the Golden Bears and pull this one off, they just may well be on the way back.