UCLA plays Colorado at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Get out the abacus. The Buffaloes have given up 50 or more points in six of 13 Pac-12 games the last two seasons. Staff writer Chris Foster examines the story lines:
Heal thy self
Colorado's defense is the perfect proving ground.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has not played particularly well since a 34-27 victory over Utah on Oct. 3. He had gussied-up numbers against a depleted and bad California defense (410 yards passing) and struggled against Oregon and Stanford.
So here comes a defense that ranks 106th nationally in passing yards allowed, giving up 268 a game. Oregon State threw for 420 yards against the Buffaloes.
The Bruins' running game stalled against California (78 yards) and Stanford (74 yards). They did roll up 219 yards against Oregon, though the Ducks seemed more concerned with containing Hundley.
Now comes Colorado, which is 104th against the run, allowing 207 yards a game. Arizona ripped off 405 yards rushing in beating the Buffaloes last week.
UCLA was averaging 46 points through five games, but scored a total of 24 against Oregon and Stanford.
Colorado has been outscored, 199-66, in four Pac-12 games this season. Oregon amassed 755 yards in beating the Buffaloes. Sure, Oregon is Oregon. But Arizona had 670 yards against Colorado.
In other words, dinner is served.
Both teams are hoping key injured players are ready to play.
UCLA has been without running back Jordon James the last three games because of an ankle injury. He was the nation's fifth-leading rusher before being injured against Utah and still leads the Bruins with 463 yards.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks has managed to play despite a sore ankle and back. He required a painkiller injection to play against Oregon, then went out and injured his shoulder.
James and Kendricks are game-time decisions, said Coach Jim Mora.
Colorado receiver Paul Richardson (ankle) and running back Michael Adkins II (concussion) were listed as day to day this week. The Buffaloes need those two far more than the Bruins need James and Kendricks.
Richardson has 50 receptions for 914 yards and is third nationally in yards per game, averaging 130.6. Adkins is the team's leading rusher with 369 yards. The two have scored 12 of Colorado's 22 touchdowns.
UCLA loves playing at home, even if its home is farther away from campus than any other Football Bowl Subdivision team (27 miles). The Bruins are 37-17 at the Rose Bowl since 2003. They are 24-67 away from the stadium.
That bodes well for the Bruins should they ever make it back to a Rose Bowl game (UCLA's last New Year's Day visit was 1999).
The Bruins are 4-1 against Colorado at home, including a 45-6 victory in 2011. The only loss was in 2002, 31-17.
Record setter (sort of)
A victory makes UCLA bowl eligible. Mora could be the first Bruins coach to go to bowl games in his first two seasons.
That comes with a big asterisk. UCLA bowl opportunities were limited to the Rose Bowl until the Bruins went to the Liberty Bowl in 1976, Terry Donahue's first season.
Still, Donahue, Bob Toledo, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel were unable to accomplish a two-for-two.
Two lines matter. One is a physical presence. The other, the experts' opinion.
UCLA lost tackle Torian White for the season to a leg injury. Simon Goines, the Bruins' other tackle, will sit out a second game with a knee injury. That left three freshmen starting against Oregon: tackle Caleb Benenoch, guard Scott Quessenberry and guard Alex Redmond.
The line performed much better than expected against the Ducks and should be more than a match for Colorado.
The other line comes from Las Vegas. The Bruins opened as a 24-point favorite. That has shot up to as many as 28 points. According to Lasvegasinsider.com, one team was favored by more this week in matchups of teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences as of Friday. Ohio State was a 32-point favorite over Purdue.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun