In order to become eligible for a post season bowl, stay tied for first place in the Pac-12 South (at least), and guarantee themselves a winning record in the conference this Saturday at the Rose Bowl, Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA football team must:
1. Contain Colorado running back Rodney Stewart.
As the Bruins’ run defense has been atrocious in giving up at least 200 yards in six of the ten games that they have played so far, Rodney Stewart needs to be as effective as Twilight’s Kristen Stewart on the ground this Saturday.
He, and the other Buffalo runners, cannot get open yardage, and UCLA absolutely must make their tackles and not give up any yards after the initial hit, which they have done all year; they must wrap up and not depend on bring them down with a knock to the shoulder or anything like that.
2. Have Derrick Coleman be healthy and effective.
It is great news that Coleman’s playing this Saturday, as he injured his hip in Salt Lake City against Utah – apparently it wasn’t serious enough for the Bruin running back to miss any time.
However, Coleman must be effective in getting much needed yardage and moving the chains for first downs. He has been UCLA’s best and most valuable player because of that, and for the Bruins to win he must come through again.
3. Have Kevin Prince and the offensive line execute and perform 100 times better than they did against Utah.
Those six false starts that the o-line had – four by tackle Mike Harris alone – must not happen against Colorado.
And Prince must make better decisions; keep the bad passes to a bare minimum and, for goodness sakes, no intercetptions!
It’s essential and imperative for this to happen in order to control the clock and keep Colorado’s offense off the field, which is what the pistol offesne is partially designed to do.
The Bruins’ most important key to this upcoming game is this…
4. THEY ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, AND DEFINITELY CANNOT TAKE COLORADO LIGHTLY!!
These Buffaloes from Boulder may be 2-9, but they are coming off their first win in the conference against a team that UCLA would like to forget exists due to how they were treated by them: Arizona.
Teams with records like Colorado at late points of the season – which this is – if they are well coached, go into their games with the mindset of having nothing to lose, and that often makes a dangerous team, regardless of their record or how badly they have played.
Colorado evidently played like they had nothing to lose against the Wildcats, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that they will have that same attitude against the Bruins.
That’s why Neuheisel and company has to forget the Buffaloes’ record and play with the urgency and intensity that they showed in their previous two home games.
If UCLA does that, they should get the victory.
If they don’t, it will be devastating.