Week 11 – UCLA at Washington State

Posted Nov 8, 2012

Week 11 Fearless Prediction – UCLA at Washington State

UCLA (7-2) at Washington State (2-7) Nov. 10, 10:30, ESPN2

Here's The Deal: A rising Los Angeles-based school has seized control of the Pac-12 South Division. And, shockingly, it isn't USC.

UCLA is surging in the South, taking sole possession of the lower half of the Pac-12 last weekend. On a night when USC was getting lapped by Oregon, the Bruins were destroying the same Arizona team, 66-10, that had beaten Troy a week earlier. UCLA is relevant again, a credit to the job being done by first-year head coach Jim Mora and his staff of assistants. BCS ranked for the first time in six years, and about to play their final road game, the Bruins must keep their eye on the ball this week in Pullman.

Wazzu has dropped six straight games, and is officially running on fumes as the regular season winds down. The product on the field and the results in the standings are stark indications of how much rebuilding rookie head coach Mike Leach must do at his new school. Further complicating the stretch run was the recent suspension of WR Marquess Wilson, the Cougars' best offensive player.

Why UCLA Might Win: The Bruins are beginning to put up numbers that'll remind Leach of his days in Lubbock.

The UCLA attack has started to peak behind one of the Pac-12's best backfields. QB Brett Hundley is no longer playing like a redshirt freshman, accounting for 10 touchdowns and just one pick during the current three-game winning streak. Behind him is Johnathan Franklin, the nation's No. 4 rusher, who was tough to bring down in the consecutive wins over the league's Arizona teams. The way the Bruins are scoring, it'll be tough for Washington State to keep pace. The Cougars will not only be missing Wilson, but have normed just 14 points over the last four games.

Why Washington State Might Win: UCLA is liable to have its head in upcoming games with USC and Stanford rather in the Palouse, where it belongs.

Looking ahead is a common mistake for teams unaccustomed to being in the Top 25. Wasn't it just a month ago that the Bruins were getting routed by Cal in Berkeley, 43-17? If there's one last hurrah in 2012, the Cougars are going to need career days from a couple of their seniors, QB Jeff Tuel and Buck Travis Long. Tuel will be responsible for engaging the team's other receivers, like Gabe Marks and Brett Bartolone. Long is the leader of a green front wall and the player most responsible for Wazzu's top 20 ranking in sacks and tackles for loss.

What To Watch Out For: Mora is known for getting the most out his defensive players. That reputation is holding firm in his Westwood debut.

UCLA is getting stellar years from a handful players, like DE Datone Jones, LB Anthony Barr … and LB Eric Kendricks. In Kendricks, the program already knew it had a talented defender, but he's taken his game to a new level as a sophomore. He leads the Pac-12 in tackles, making no fewer than 13 stops in three of the last four games. While the D has had breakdowns along the way, such as in Berkeley and in Tempe, it has had begun to achieve a certain level of consistency that Mora has been seeking.

What Will Happen: Rick Neuheisel's staff might have blown this game. Mora's won't.

This is one of those weeks that the new regime's approach will serve the program particularly well. Although the Bruins might not roll the way they did a week ago, they will have plenty enough offense to race past a struggling opponent. If weather is an issue, Franklin will help limit turnovers by churning out at least 150 yards and a couple of scores on the ground.

CFN Prediction: UCLA 38 … Washington State 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) UCLA -14.5 O/U: 60.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Skyfall, 1 – Wreck It Ralph): 2