UCLA vs. Washington State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night’s matchup between the Bruins and Cougars.
When: Saturday, Oct. 15 – 10:30 p.m. ET
Where: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Washington
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Jim Mora’s Bruins have been up and down this season — probably more than he anticipated they would be. UCLA came close to piecing together something that resembles a winning streak after victories against UNLV and BYU, but a Week 4 loss to Stanford stopped that dead in its tracks. The Bruins were looking to win back-to-back games for the second time this past weekend. But after a win at home versus Arizona, UCLA went on the road and fell to Arizona State on Saturday, 23-20.
It’s been a different story for Mike Leach’s Cougars, though. After dropping the first two games of the season, Washington State has ripped off three consecutive wins, with the last two coming against Pac-12 opponents. A 56-6 win over Idaho and a 51-33 win over Oregon were matched with the Cougars’ first road win of the 2016 campaign on Saturday. They shredded then-No. 15 Stanford, 42-16.
UCLA has a distinct advantage over Wazzu in their all-time series, 39-20-1. However, the Cougars took last year’s meeting in Pasadena, 31-27.
What To Know About UCLA
First thing’s first, Josh Rosen left the game against Arizona State with a leg injury, and his status for this game is still up in the air. Before he exited, though, Rosen completed 24-of-43 passes for 400 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was replaced by Mike Fafaul, who completed 3-of-11 passes for 44 yards with two picks. So, there’s quite a drop-off from Rosen to his replacement.
One problem for the Bruins is the fact their running game has been stagnant all season. Soso Jamabo was held to nine rushing yards on three carries, and Nate Starks put up 31 yards on 14 carries. The two tailbacks have combined for 380 rushing yards on 108 attempts so far this season.
The UCLA defense has been stout, though. It’s allowing 342.5 yards per game, which ranks No. 25 in total defense. The Bruins are also No. 28 in passing defense, giving up only 187.7 yards per game through the air.
What to Know About Washington State
That top-30 passing defense of UCLA’s might not be enough to slow down Wazzu, though. Luke Falk tore it up against Stanford last weekend. He completed 30-of-41 passes for 357 yards and four touchdowns. On the season, the Washington State quarterback has completed 74.1 percent of his passes for 1,852 yards and 16 touchdowns to only four interceptions.
Wide receiver River Cracraft was his main target against the Cardinal. He reeled in seven catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. Gabe Marks provided five grabs for 39 yards and a score, but it was Tavares Martin Jr. whose only two receptions both went for touchdowns.
The Washington State defense held Christian McCaffrey to 40 total yards from scrimmage, forced two fumbles and picked off two passes in that win versus Stanford.
Offense: Washington State – UCLA’s running game has just been absent, and Falk has been spot on in the aerial attack.
Defense: UCLA – The Bruins have been much better than the Cougars on the defensive side of the ball, especially with Jayon Brown and Kenny Young leading the way.
Special Teams: UCLA – Erik Powell has been awful kicking the football this year for Wazzu. The Bruins get the edge simply because JJ Molson can be trusted to kick a field goal.
Coaching: Washington State – Jim Mora is a fine head coach, but Mike Leach has his team clicking right now. That coaching staff has done an excellent job to help the team bounce back from a 0-2 start.
Matchup To Watch
UCLA quarterbacks vs. Luke Falk
If Rosen is good to go, Bruins fans can wipe some of the sweat off their foreheads. He’s the only hope they have of winning this football game. If Rosen isn’t in the game, UCLA will have to turn to a ground game that has been anything but effective this season. Falk has the talent to take over a game and can pick apart a secondary. His connection with Marks is always there for Wazzu to fall back on. So, this one will come down to whichever team’s quarterback makes the most plays and takes care of the football.
Spread: Washington State – 5
Over/Under: No Line
UCLA vs. Washington State Prediction
Even if Rosen can’t go, it won’t have an impact on Falk. He’s still going to drop back and let the pigskin fly at least 40 times in this game. He’ll throw for 300-plus yards and will find Marks for a touchdown. Jamal Morrow and Gerard Wicks will help balance things out by picking up three yards here or four yards there on the ground, but the home run plays will come through the air. UCLA will do what it needs to do to keep things close. The running game for the Bruins will be better, but they’ll still come up just short in this one.
UCLA vs. Washington State Score Prediction: Washington State 38, UCLA 34