Despite the first blemish of their record last week, the No. 12 UCLA Bruins can even up the Pac-12 by toppling undefeated No. 2 Oregon on Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.
Brett Hundley and the Bruins suffered their first loss of the season last week against Stanford, but a victory over Oregon would break the conference and the possibly the BCS wide open. The Ducks are currently third in the BCS standings, and will likely have to run the table in order to leapfrog Florida State.
The Ducks have gone basically untested this season, winning each game by an average of 40.2 points. Then-No. 16 Washington came within seven points in the third quarter, until quarterback Marcus Mariota rushed for one score and threw another in a 45-24 win.
This will also be a matchup of the Pac-12’s two top scoring defenses, with Oregon letting up 17.3 points to UCLA’s 19.2 points per game.
In heavy contention for the Heisman, the Hawaiian sophomore Mariota has passed for 2,051 yards and 19 touchdowns with no interceptions, and is tied for third in the Pac-12 with nine rushing scores.
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Hundley was hounded and harassed for a season-high 4.0 sacks by the Cardinal last week, going 24-for-39 for one touchdown and two picks, the last of which came with less than three minutes remaining to silence any chance of a comeback.
Hundley’s 1,661 passing yards and 13 touchdowns and the Bruins previously unblemished record put the sophomore in the Heisman running, but the loss to Stanford can only be redeemed with a virtuoso performance against Oregon.
It was the second straight week the Bruins were held to less than 80 rushing yards, and a clear sign they are sorely missing injured left tackle Torian White and running back Jordon James, who both went down with ankle injuries three weeks ago in the win over Utah. James is doubtful to play against Oregon but can still return, but White is done for the season.
Paul Perkins, Steven Manfro, and Malcolm Jones have split carries the last two games, and for the season they’ve totaled 418 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Oregon will have no trouble rushing the ball, with four of their top rushers averaging a minimum of 6.7 yards a carry. Sophomore Byron Marshall is third in the Pac-12 with 746 yards and nine scores, and Thomas Tyner and De’Anthony Thomas have combined for 698 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Containing the Ducks arsenal of rushing weapons will fall on Keenan Graham and Anthony Barr, who have powered the Bruins pass rush with 9.0 sacks.
Hundley will have to keep his eyes out for Oregon’s top defensive backs Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. Together they’ve pulled down six of the Ducks 11 interceptions, the third best mark in the conference.
Point Spread: Oregon favored by 24 points
Over/Under: 73 points
Kickoff Time: 7 PM Eastern Time
Where To Watch Online: Watch ESPN
TV Channel: ESPN
Prediction: Oregon 42, UCLA 20