In one of the most entertaining games of the weekend, the Washington State Cougars (6-3, 4-2) will travel to face the UCLA Bruins (7-2, 4-2), who currently are ranked #19 in the College Football Playoff rankings and #18 in the AP poll, in a Pac-12 matchup Saturday night. UCLA has won the last five meetings between the schools, including a 44-36 win in Pullman on November 10, 2012 in the most recent matchup. Washington State covered the line in that game as a 16.5 point underdog.
Washington State has won four of five after knocking off Arizona State 38-24 at home last week. UCLA has reeled off three straight wins as they skunked Oregon State 41-0 at home last week. The kickoff in this contest is scheduled for 10:45 pm ET from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and will be televised on ESPN. UCLA is currently a 10.5 point favorite in the contest with the over/under set at 65.5 points.
Washington State trailed 14-0 after one quarter and 21-17 after three quarters but dropped the hammer in the fourth as they outscored the Sun Devils 21-3 to get the win. The Cougars outgained the Sun Devils 512-458 despite dropping the first down battle 24-22. Washington State forced two Arizona State turnovers while committing only one and was nipped in the time of possession battle 30:17 to 29:43 in the contest. The Cougars had several long sustained drives; they went 92, 94 and 99 yards to put points on the board.
The Cougars are one of the most prolific passing attacks in the nation, which is typical in a Mike Leach Air Raid offense; they are currently #1 in the nation with 417.3 yards per game. Washington State is second to last in the nation in rushing offense with 82.3 yards per contest; they are averaging 34.6 points per game and stand 90th in scoring defense by allowing 30.1 points per contest. Luke Falk has completed 353 of 503 passes for 3,736 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Gerard Wicks leads the Cougars on the ground with 77 carries for 415 yards and two scores; Keith Harrington (30 carries, 212 yards, TD) and Jamal Morrow (33 carries, 211 yards) are also in the mix on the ground. Washington State has thrown the ball 512 times while running just 214 times on the year. Eleven players have at least 11 receptions on the year with Gabe Marks leading the way with 69 receptions for 865 yards and 11 scores. River Cracraft (48 receptions, 552 yards, 4 TD) and Dom Williams (54 receptions, 779 yards, 8 TD) are good receivers while Wicks (27 catches) and Harrington (37 receptions) have been excellent targets out of the backfield. Erik Powell has booted all 39 extra point attempts and 14 of 18 field goals on the year with a long of 47 yards.
UCLA was scoreless with Oregon State after one quarter but broke the game open with a 24 point second quarter; they followed that up with 17 points in the third quarter and the defense posted the shutout. The Bruins won the total yardage battle 674-246 and finished with 33 first downs while allowing 12. UCLA forced four turnovers while playing turnover free ball and held the ball for 37:03 in the contest while allowing Oregon State to have the ball for only 22:57 in the contest.
The Bruins enter this contest 23rd in the nation in passing offense with an average of 293.7 yards per game through the air; they are 33rd in the nation in rushing as they collect 198 yards per game on the ground. UCLA is tied for 23rd in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 36.1 points per contest and they stand 54th in scoring defense by allowing 24.6 points per game. Freshman quarterback Josh Rosen has completed 199 of 323 passes for 2,564 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions while backup Jerry Neuheisel has hit only 5 of 18 passes for 53 yards with two picks. Paul Perkins is the Bruins’ leading rusher with 160 carries for 961 yards and 10 scores; Soso Jamabo (60 carries, 387 yards, 4 TD), Bolu Olorunfunmi (34 carries, 200 yards) and Nate Starks (37 carries, 242 yards, 4 TD) are all good secondary options. Jordan Payton leads UCLA with 50 receptions for 752 yards and four scores; Thomas Duarte (42 grabs, 666 yards, 8 TD) and Devin Fuller (22 catches, 233 yards, 3 TD) are other solid targets. Ka’imi Fairbairn has booted all 38 extra point attempts and 15 of 16 field goal attempts this season with a long of 60 yards.
Washington State is 6-0 ATS in their last six conference games, 4-0 ATS in their last four on the road against teams with a winning home record, 4-0 ATS in their last four after a straight up win, 5-0 ATS in their last five after an ATS win, 5-0 ATS in their last five against teams with a winning record and 4-0 ATS in their last four on the road. UCLA is 1-3-1 ATS in their last five at home, 1-5 ATS in their last six after scoring at least 40 points, 0-4 ATS in their last four after an ATS win and 0-4 ATS in their last four after a straight up win of at least 20 points.
This one should be a good matchup as the Cougars bring their top ranked passing attack to the contest against a UCLA team that has been very good of late. Falk gets the nod over Rosen as far as experience goes and Washington State can move the ball and put up points. UCLA has talent and home field advantage in this contest; the Bruins should win the game but it will be a single digit victory so if you’re playing the line, you have to grab Washington State and the points.