The Oregon Ducks might not have to focus on anything except UCLA and the teams on their schedule, but midway through the first quarter Florida State is leading North Carolina State 28-0 on Saturday. This is the type of dominance that Oregon must display on Saturday. The good news is that they are playing UCLA, so there are plenty of chances for style points. However, UCLA is not coming to Autzen stadium to get blown out in any fashion.
UCLA vs. Oregon
When: Saturday October 26, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Autzen Stadium
UCLA is coming off of a tough loss to Stanford and they are attempting to keep control of the PAC 12 South race. Another conference loss and the Bruins will be in dire straights when it comes to earning the conference title bid.
Oregon has been outscoring points at a rapid rate, but they haven’t played any true fourth quarter games yet. Marcus Mariota has only attempted nine passes in the final quarter this season.
The Bruins’ offense struggled all game against Stanford last week. There’s no doubt that Brett Hundley has to lead his team to more than 10 points. That means the offensive line must protect Hundley in the passing game, and create big running lanes. With Oregon’s style of play, there will be plenty of offensive opportunities. The Ducks could be vulnerable to the pass if UCLA can block it up front.
Defensively, this could be one of the battles of the year. UCLA has the athletes to contend with the running game, but they must provide the right scheme. Penetration by the front seven is necessary. They have to win on first down too. While Stanford controlled the clock with the ground performance, Oregon is looking to score as fast as possible. Anthony Barr needs about five plays behind the line of scrimmage to be a factor.
De’Anthony Thomas is finally back from a sprained ankle. He’s just one more weapon that UCLA has to worry about. Thomas can line up all over the field, and there should be some special plays for “Black Mamba” on Saturday. Marcus Mariota is also having another special season. It will be interesting to see if he establishes the run early.
The Oregon defense has something to prove after facing the passing attack from Washington State. The Ducks have a chance to really get after Brett Hundley. Their front seven should cause nightmares for the UCLA offensive line. Still, Oregon should look for the Bruins to use a heavy dose of the running game.
Everything depends on how well the young Bruins adapt to the Autzen Stadium surroundings UCLA will have to hang in there early. If the lead starts to expand early in the second quarter, then it will be trouble for UCLA. Oregon will continue to do what they do well.