Our 2013 NCAA Football schedule continues on Saturday evening as UCLA hosts Arizona State. We’ll have complete coverage beginning at 6:30 PM Eastern on our WestwoodOne affiliates coast-to-coast and streaming live right here on WestwoodOneSports.com!
To get you ready for the game, our analyst Rocky Boiman, who will call the game, filed this preview:
In a nutshell: The Bruins are on the precipice of becoming a legitimate powerhouse and a win this weekend versus Arizona State puts them one step closer to a Pac-12 Championship Game berth. Even having lost to both Stanford and Oregon of the North division, the Bruins control their destiny in the South. I didn’t grow up on UCLA football, but when I watch the Bruins this season I see nothing but top-rated, NFL-ready talent throughout the roster. They are led by their quarterback Brett Hundley, who has all the talent and the tools and shows flashes of brilliance in his play. Then just when you’re ready to call him a top NFL prospect, he shows inconsistency in his accuracy and overall feel in the pocket. There is no question, however, that he has game-changing ability. Speaking of ability, the Bruins have been led the last two games by one of the biggest stories in college football, Myles Jack. Jack is a starting linebacker, but in the last two games he has done double duty and rushed for close to 180 yards and five touchdowns while serving as the Bruins most electrifying running back. He has injected an unquestioned spark into this offense.
Player I’ll Be Watching: No prizes for guessing this one. It’s Myles Jack. I’ve mentioned his stats as a running back, but one thing no one is talking about is that Jack has shown signs of being careless with the football. Last week he lost the ball on a touchdown run, but was ruled to have crossed the goal line prior to the ball coming out. Then later he lost the ball again, which led to a Washington touchdown. A guy who plays both ways is a heck of a story, but someone who splits duties also doesn’t devote all his practice to one position. Ball security is an art that takes countless reps to achieve. You better believe Arizona State has seen this and will be going after the strip and turnover.
What the Bruins need to do to win: They need a great game out Brett Hundley and need him to play turnover-free football. Arizona State’s defense leads the Pac-12 in interceptions with 17 and have been turnover machines the last five games. I think man-for-man UCLA has more talent than ASU, but turnovers are the great equalizer. If Hundley can take care of the ball and be brilliant like he can, the Bruins can roll over the Sun Devils.
In a Nutshell: Arizona State may be the hottest team in the country that no one is talking about having won five in a row with a combination of a fast, explosive offense and an aggressive, turnover-causing defense. The Sun Devils like to start fast then not let up on you. They lead the South division and can all but lock things up with a win over UCLA having already beaten the division’s other contender USC earlier in the year. ASU’s running back Marion Grice is a game-changer, having racked up 100-plus all-purpose yards in his last 12 games. He’s also second in the country in scoring, averaging 12 points per game. The Sun Devils also have a dual-threat quarterback in Taylor Kelly, who excels at moving the sticks on third down.
Player I’ll Be Watching: Marion Grice, RB. Grice is an all-purpose weapon in this Sun Devil offense combining for 20 total touchdowns this season, 14 on the ground and six through the air. His 120 points this season has accounted for 30% of ASU’s total scoring. His best attribute is his big play ability and the guy is a true football player having never missed any time in his two seasons playing for ASU. I’m predicting he will touch the ball 30+ times in this game.
What the Sun Devils need to do to win: Stop the Bruins ground game. UCLA linebacker/running back Myles Jack has given the Bruins a physicality and attitude that they have been lacking all season. If ASU can extinguish that spark the Bruins have found in the ground game, they force the game onto the shoulders of quarterback Brett Hundley. Hundley to date has not yet proven that he can take over a game in dominant fashion and lead his team to victory. This will be one of the most intriguing stories to come out of any game played on Saturday night, not only for its implications on the Pac-12 race but for what it means to Hundley’s stock to those scouts that are watching.
– Rocky Boiman