UCLA Football 2015 Schedule Preview: Stanford Cardinal


2008. UCLA beat Stanford 28-20 at the Rose Bowl. Since then, the Cardinal have beaten the Bruins seven straight times. In 2012, Stanford beat UCLA in consecutive weeks, a 35-17 beating in the final game of the regular season and then six days later winning 27-24 in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Unfortunately, that was also the last time UCLA actually had a chance to beat Stanford.

Though head coach Jim Mora has greatly increased the stock of UCLA Football, he just cannot get passed Stanford and their head coach David Shaw. Will that change on Thursday, October 15 in both team’s sixth game of the season?

The Stanford Cardinal

Oct 19, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal head coach David Shaw congratulates wide receiver Kodi Whitfield (9) after a touchdown against the UCLA Bruins in the 3rd quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach: David Shaw, 5th Year

2014 Record: 8-5 overall, 5-4 Pac-12

Stanford handles change well. They lost quarterback Andrew Luck and running back Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney in recent years. They even lost head coach Jim Harbaugh five years ago. But since then, promoted offensive coordinator David Shaw took over the program and is 42-12 in four years. That is very impressive for a first-time Division I head coach.

Last year Stanford had a tough start. They had their lowest win count since 2009, going 8-5 a year after winning the Pac-12 in back-to-back seasons. This year looks to be even more perilous for the Cardinal. Though they have the “defeater of Bruins”, QB Kevin Hogan, who could possibly beat UCLA five times with a victory this year, the rest of the team has a few holes on both sides of the ball. The Cardinal lost six guys to the NFL Draft which means they did not just lose players, they lost very good players.

The Stanford Offense

Nov 28, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) passes the ball in the second half of the game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl. Stanford won 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA Bruins
UCLA Bruins /

UCLA Bruins

Kevin Hogan, a name Bruin fans are not fond of hearing, returns for his final season. He looks to improve from last year, but can he do it with the players around him? Not to say RB Christian McCaffrey and WR Devon Cajuste cannot cut it, because they are both talented athletes, it is just that Hogan lost some key players in the last year.

The running game was not as potent without Tyler Gaffney and the Cardinal are seriously going to miss WR Ty Montgomery. But in their power offense, they do utilize multiple tight ends and one of them, Austin Hooper, is going to be key for the Cardinal. More good news is that their ever-ready offensive line will continue to see some cohesion as four starters return.

So how does that match-up with UCLA? Last year the Bruin defense did not do enough. Not only did they give Stanford a lot of time to execute, they misused players during vital moments and generally did not look prepared. This year, UCLA will be better and should be a step up in game planning under new defensive coordinator Tom Bradley.

If Stanford can come together as a unit and start their season the way they finished last season (on fire), then Stanford has a little to worry about on offense against UCLA. Defense is another story.

The Stanford Defense

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Stanford’s defense has always been good but last year they were stellar. The Cardinal D essentially saved them last season. Though they did get burned in a few games, they were hands down the best defense in the Pac-12 and arguably the nation. That changes.

Stanford loses eight starters from last season. The linebackers look to be the most solidified group of the defense with seniors Kevin Anderson and Blake Martinez returning. The defensive line will have all new starers and the DBs have two out of the four starters returning, seniors Ronnie Harris and Zach Hoffpauir.

If UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone can keep the inexperienced Stanford D guessing and throw in some wrinkles to his offense (like he did in the first half of the Alamo Bowl), the Bruins could have a shot at beating Stanford as UCLA returns 10 starters of their own. Though if they do not figure out how to score on the defense, then it is going to be another long game for the Bruins.

The UCLA at Stanford Outlook

There are several things to consider here.

Stanford needs consistency. UCLA football will be more improved than last year, despite not having a starting QB named. This game is at Stanford, on a Thursday night. UCLA has been very decent on the road. UCLA football has not beaten Stanford in seven games. So what happens this October? A shocker.

The Way-Too-Early Prediction

UCLA 21 – Stanford 23