A year ago the UCLA Bruins pummeled Arizona by 56 points in the middle of a five-game winning streak and carried that performance all the way to the Pac-12 title game.
A conference title is likely out of reach for quarterback Brett Hundley and the No. 16 Bruins this time around, but the revenge-minded Wildcats can pick up their first victory over a ranked opponent this season on Saturday night at Arizona Stadium. A blowout is not expected this time around, with Arizona favored by just one point.
The Wildcats have won three straight off the fleet feet of the nation’s eighth-ranked rusher in junior Ka’Deem Carey and all-purpose quarterback B.J. Denker. Carey has gained 1,072 yards and 10 touchdowns off 188 carries, and Denker’s rushed for another 11 scores and thrown for 1,502 yards and nine touchdowns.
Last week, Denker came up with four total touchdowns and Carey extended his streak of 100-plus yard games to 11 in a 33-28 win against Cal. Carey’s now gained more than 100 yards in 15 of his last 16 games, and the Wildcats are on pace for their first .500 or better conference record since 2010.
Though his Heisman hopes are likely dashed after two straight losses to national powerhouses Stanford and Oregon, Hundley has steadied the UCLA offense with two passing and two rushing touchdowns in last week’s 45-23 victory over Colorado.
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The Bruins were able to extend drives going 6-for-11 on third down. In the two losses, UCLA went 14-for-33 on third down, but still lead the Pac-12 with a 52.1 conversion rate. Hundley also threw four of his eight interceptions on the year during the short, but costly, slide.
UCLA leading receiver Devin Fuller also recorded three catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns, the first multi-touchdown game of his career, but 11 penalties for a loss of 122 yards could have soured the victory. The Bruins are last in the Pac-12 with 75 penalties for a loss of 640 yards.
The Wildcats have largely limited their miscues, ranking third in the conference in penalties, and have protected Denker well, conceding the second fewest sacks.
Thanks to a three-headed monster secondary of defensive backs Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Shaquille Richardson, and Jourdon Grandon, the Wildcats also boast the conference’s stingiest pass defense with 14 interceptions returned for four touchdowns.
UCLA’s Anthony Barr and Keenan Grahan continue to lead the conference’s eighth-best pass rush with 11 total sacks, and 5-foot-8 corner Ishmael Adams has racked up three interceptions for the nation’s 36th ranked defense.
Betting Odds: Arizona favored by 1 point.
Over/Under: 56.5 points
Time: 10 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Where To Watch Online: Watch ESPN
Prediction: Arizona 37, UCLA 30