Friday, 15 November 2013

The Pac-12 Journey Game 77: The Sneaky Awesome Game

Who is playing?

The Washington Huskies and the UCLA Bruins.

Where is the game being played?

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

What time does the game start and where can I find it on my television?

6:00 PM (PT) on ESPN2

What is the point spread in this game?

UCLA is favored by three points (-3). The line opened at -3. 

What should I watch for when Washington has the ball?

Washington's commitment to its identity will be key tonight. The Huskies are built from their running back out with Bishop Sankey being one of the best runners in college football. UCLA has been very strong on defense this year but teams have had success running on them. In particular, the Bruins have looked less than stellar defending the run against spread offenses as Oregon ripped them for 325 yards and five touchdowns on the ground while Arizona had success to the tune of five yards per carry last week.

UCLA is dangerous when teams are stuck in obvious passing situations and the Bruins can unleash their athletic group of pass rushers. The Huskies have really struggled on the offensive line this season and will have a very tough time accounting for UCLA's stud outside linebacker Anthony Barr. Washington could win this game without a great rushing performance as Keith Price is finally healthy and throwing the ball really well. However, it's probably for the best if the Huskies don't need to find out if Price is capable of converting on third and long.

What should I watch for when UCLA has the ball?

For as much as UCLA has struggled against spread running teams, Washington has been worse allowing 5.3 yards per carry and three touchdowns against Oregon and 314 yards and four touchdowns against Arizona State. Prior to last week it seemed as though UCLA was ill equipped to exploit the Huskies despite running a spread offense with a running identity. The Bruins have gone through major upheaval on the offensive line due to injuries and lost their very productive tailback Jordan James to an ankle injury. Recently though, UCLA's luck has come around as left tackle Simon Goines is healthy and back in the lineup and true freshmen Alex Redmond and Scott Quessenberry have steadily improved with each game since looking lost against Stanford.

The Bruins appear to have also found a replacement for the ailing James, one that came from a most unlikely source. The Bruins tried out true freshman linebacker Myles Jack at running back and he went of for one of the highlights of the year as he broke four tackles en route to a 66 yard touchdown run against Arizona. Jack is still a starter on defense and will not have his role minimized in UCLA's effort to stop Bishop Sankey but, he will remain a part of the offense going forward. What will Jack's role be tonight and can he make a similar impact as he did last week? It's not so much that Jack ran for 120 yards on only six carries (although that was awesome) but his biggest impact was in the energy he brought. UCLA looked stagnant before Jack got in the game on offense and the plays he made with the ball really lit up the entire UCLA offense and pushed them to another level. Was the Myles Jack Show a one-night only event or is it a lasting craze? The answer may very well determine this game.

Which team should I bet on and which team will win?

Washington's run game and a healthy Keith Price will present a lot of problems for UCLA's defense but the Bruins are just a better and more talented team and they are playing at home. Lay the points, and roll with the Myles Jack Show.

The Pick: UCLA 35, Washington 31

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