Week 13 - Arizona State at UCLA

Posted Nov 20, 2013

Week 13 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Arizona State at UCLA

Arizona State (8-2) at UCLA (8-2) Nov. 23, 7:00, Fox

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Oregon is back at the head of the North Division. Now it's up to the South to determine a frontrunner as the regular season approaches its end.

Arizona State leads the South by a game, but UCLA is breathing down the neck of the Sun Devils, who'll travel to Pasadena this Saturday for the Pac-12's game of the week. Since falling to 3-2 with an Oct. 5 loss to Notre Dame, ASU has been one of the league's hottest teams, capturing five in a row. However, it was less than stellar in recent wins over Utah and Oregon State. With a victory on Saturday, the Sun Devils will win be crowned South champ, putting second-year head coach Todd Graham way ahead of schedule.

The Bruins have two conference losses, but, unlike Arizona State, they had to play both Oregon and Stanford … on the road … in consecutive weeks. UCLA has won three straight to rise up to No. 14 in the rankings, while staying hot on the tails of the Sun Devils in the South. Jim Mora, too, is in his second year on the job. And like his peers , he's looking to gain an edge whenever possible in a division that's rife with opportunities. This week is clearly one of those times.

Why Arizona State Might Win: Both offenses can score. Arizona State, though, is home to the more opportunistic D.

The Sun Devils lead the Pac-12 in takeaways, and their front seven gets off the snap in a hurry. A young and aching UCLA offensive line will have its hands full trying to keep DT Will Sutton, Devil Carl Bradford and DE Davon Coleman out of the backfield. When the Bruins have struggled at the point of attack, such as the Stanford and Oregon games, the offense predictably sputters. ASU's overall team speed is going to present a problem for a UCLA squad that can't afford to have its best playmakers neutralized.

Why UCLA Might Win: The Bruins boast the premier offensive player in this game; the most influential defensive player as well.

In QB Brett Hundley and LB Anthony Barr harbor the kinds of game-changers who can rise up and take a game over, especially at home. Hundley is tapping into his September self now that he has more support in the backfield from two-way player Myles Jack. On defense, Barr needs to be accounted for at all times. He's a monster coming off the edge, with the potential to blow up the other guy's entire gameplan. This is the kind of game that'll be dictated by the stars, and UCLA harbors two of the brightest in Hundley and Barr.

Who To Watch Out For: UCLA is shaky in pass protection. Statistically, Arizona State is worse, yielding 26 sacks. Beyond just Barr, it's incumbent upon Bruin linemen Keenan Graham and Cassius Marsh to get penetration so that the second level can force the action.

- This is the kind of game that could earn the Sun Devil backfield more of the attention that it richly deserves. QB Taylor Kelly and versatile RB Marion Grice aren't household names nationally, but the latter has accounted for 20 touchdowns while the former has thrown 24 scoring strikes.

- Hundley's feet will be crucial to the outcome of this game. He's more of a passer than a runner, but with the mismatches that the Sun Devil front can cause, Hundley will be forced to make things happen on the move and outside the pocket.

What Will Happen: All of the ingredients are in place for this week's South Division showdown to be every bit as good as expected. UCLA and Arizona State are going to trade blows long into the night in a see-saw battle that doesn't get decided until late in the fourth quarter. It's at that time when Hundley and Jack will step up their games, leading the Bruins into a tie atop the division, with one more critical clash left against rival USC.

Prediction: UCLA 39 … Arizona State 35
Line: Arizona State -2.5 o/u: 62
Must See Rating: (5 Tiebreaker – 1 A Medea Christmas) … 4
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