In one of the last games on the Saturday college football schedule, this week’s installment of the Pac-12 After Dark features Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins (1-3) fresh off a comeback victory against Washington State, and looking at another potential shootout against the high-scoring Arizona Wildcats (2-1) in Tucson.
Arizona is coming off an early bye week, and playing in their first conference game of the year in this Pac-12 After Dark battle. The Wildcats will be almost a full touchdown favorite at home. The bookies expect a lot of scoring, with the total hovering around 72. Arizona generates almost 44 points of offense per game.
PAC-12 AFTER DARK: UCLA Bruins (1-3) at Arizona Wildcats (2-1)
Kickoff: 7:30pm PT
Location: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Point Spread: AZ -6.5
Money Line: AZ -225 / UCLA +190
UCLA’s current offense has yet to fully catch up to Chip Kelly’s juggernauts in Oregon, but fans finally caught a glimpse of the future in their epic victory over #19 Washington State in last weekend’s installment of Pac-12 After Dark.
After UCLA’s worst start in 75 years, Kelly struggled in his first season with the Bruins. UCLA started the season 0-3, and the growing legion of Kelly haters couldn’t wait to fire up the “Fire Chip Kelly” memes. It looked like the Bruins were about to go 0-4 until UCLA pulled off a spectacular comeback.
The Bruins overcame nine touchdown passes from Wazzu QB, Anthony Gordon, to win 67-63. UCLA QB, Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR), threw five touchdowns and rushed for two more in the win that is in early consideration for Game of the Year.
Another Pac-12 After Dark Shootout for UCLA
For a second week in a row, UCLA hits the road for a tough conference opponent. Just like in last week’s Pac-12 After Dark main event, UCLA will have to win a shootout if they expect to compete with Arizona’s high-octane offense.
“Last week’s game doesn’t have any bearing on this week’s game,” said Kelly. “That’s what I think our players have to understand. We played well last Saturday because we practiced well during the week. So, that’s the real correlation that we’re trying to hit home with our players.”
UCLA’s rushing attack averages only 96 yards per game. The O-line are going to have their hands full trying to thwart the Arizona run D. Senior Josh Kelley only averages 3.7 yards per carry, and he’s only seen the end zone once. He rushed for over 1,243 yards last season with 12 scores.
WR Demetric Felton has almost 500 combined yards, including three touchdown receptions.
UCLA QB, DTR, is only completing 57.6 percent of his passes, but he’s tossed 10 touchdowns. DTR threw five picks, but only one in the comeback against Wazzu.
The Kahlil Tate Thundering Revue in Tucson
Arizona dropped the first game of the year in Hawaii, 45-38. They then won two straight, including a win over Texas Tech. The Wildcats also had an extra week to prep for UCLA.
The Wildcats run defense is much more reliable than their secondary. Arizona shouldn’t have any problems thwarting UCLA’s tepid run game. It’s the secondary that will get them intro trouble. Arizona’s pass D allowed 372 yards per game. Overall, Arizona’s defense yielded 41-plus points in two games this season against Hawaii and Northern Arizona. Those two schools aren’t exactly powerhouses, which is a bit troubling.
Senior QB, Kahlil Tate, grew up in Inglewood, CA, so he’ll be fired up to beat a school that didn’t recruit him. Tate combined for 314 yards and two scores in the victory over Texas Tech. He leads the team in rushing, and scampered for 100-plus yards twice this season.
Arizona has a tandem RB committee that includes Gary Brightwell (three TD) and JJ Taylor (two TD). Arizona needs to figure out how to get them the ball more often. Brightwell averages 8.7 yards per carry, while Taylor puts up 5.9 yards per carry.
Tate threw six touchdowns, but also threw four interceptions. His favorite targets are WR Tay Cunningham (12 receptions, two TD) and Stanley Berry III (nine receptions, two TD).
Texas Tech picked off Tate twice, and recorded two sacks. UCLA rallied back against Wazzu due to their ability to generate points off of turnovers. If Arizona and Tate can protect the ball, they’ll limit the damage DRT can inflict in this week’s Pac-12 After Dark matchup.
Meanwhile, in other Pac-12 conference action, #15 Cal tries to fend off Herm Edwards and Arizona State during an installment of Friday Night Football.