UCLA won the turnover battle and committed fewer penalties. The Bruins had the lead entering the fourth quarter. It looked like they may have finally conquered Stanford, their longtime Bay Area bully.
Ten plays, 70 yards and an 8-yard touchdown pass later, the Bruins were right back where they have been against the Cardinal for the better part of the past decade.
On the losing end.
The flirtation with victory made last year’s loss to Stanford perhaps one of the most painful in UCLA’s nine-game skid in the series. With the Cardinal (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12) are off to their worst start since 2008 – the last season UCLA notched a win in the series – the Bruins (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) will again try to scale their most challenging Pac-12 mountain at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Stanford Stadium.
“The coaches are saying that we need to basically leave it all on the field,” offensive lineman Michael Alves said. “Of course, that’s the expectation for every game, but they said that this is the specific game that we need to really put forward all our effort.”
When UCLA has the ball
Jedd Fisch showers Josh Rosen with clip after clip of simple checkdowns and quarterbacks absorbing sacks. On the screen and on the whiteboard, it all seems so simple. Rosen hopes he can keep it that way on the field.
“It’s a whole different world behind center,” the junior quarterback said. “Studying is about turning things into action and hopefully on the field, you’re not really thinking. You’re just reacting to the things you’re accustomed to seeing in practice and on film.”
Last week’s loss magnified two small mistakes that came in an otherwise stellar 463-yard, four-touchdown passing performance for Rosen. The junior leads the country with 1,283 passing yards and 13 touchdown passes, but is still working to perfect his place in Fisch’s system.
Within the scheme, Rosen’s brilliance will be revealed through quick, efficient and smart decisions, not through the “hero ball” he admitted to playing against Memphis that resulted in an ill-advised throw across his body and an interception in the red zone.
“He’s got a way to go,” Fisch said, “and that’s why he’s a junior in college and not a 40-year-old starter in New England.”
The Cardinal are 11th in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, allowing 208.0 yards per game. Only the Bruins are worse.
When Stanford has the ball
Except for an 80-yard run on the first play of the game, the UCLA defense held…