Game: Washington Huskies vs. #18UCLA Bruins
Where: Seattle, WA
When: November 8th, 4:00pm
Channel: Fox Sports 1
Line: UCLA by 6 points
How will the Huskies handle the dismissal of CB, Marcus Peters? Will this prove to be a locker-room distraction? Will the young secondary rise to the occasion? Third year cornerback, Marcus Peters, was dismissed from the University of Washington football program for repeatedly violating the team’s code of conduct. Peters was thought to be a sure-fire first round pick and the #1 CB prospect entering the 2015 NFL Draft. Losing a talent like Peters will prove to be a challenge for this Husky football team. True-freshman, Naijel Hale, filled in admirably earlier in the season when Peters was suspended for off-the-field issues. Hale will once again be called upon to fill the void left by Peters. The Washington Husky secondary will surely be tested by Brett Hundley and the Bruin offense tomorrow evening. The Dawgs are starting three true-freshmen in the secondary: FS Budda Baker, CB Sidney Jones IV, and now Naijel Hale. If the Huskies are going to have a chance to pull the upset, these three will have to collectively play their best game of the season.
Quarterback. Brett Hundley entered the season with a lot of hype as a potential Heisman contender; however, injuries and a struggling offensive line have hampered his potential. With that being said, Hundley still possesses the arm strength, mobility, and raw play-making ability to win games. Cyler Miles has been improving, but he still has a long way to go before he can be mentioned alongside the top QB’s in the conference. Edge, UCLA.
Running Backs. This is perhaps the most intriguing matchup all season long. Each team boasts arguably the most versatile player in the country in Myles Jack (UCLA) and Shaq Thompson (UW). Jack rushed for 4 touchdowns last year against he Huskies, but has seen his RB duties dwindled due to the emergence of 1,000-yard rusher, Paul Perkins. Oppositely, the Huskies have turned to Shaq to carry the load on offense as he is averaging 7.9 yards per carry. Both Jack and Shaq figure to impact this game on offense and defense; however, the edge here goes to UCLA as they have a proven work-horse running back in Paul Perkins. Edge, Bruins.
Wide Receivers. I still am thoroughly perplexed by the disappearance of Kasen Williams. At this point it is simply a pipe dream to expect him to break out of this slump and impact a football game. It truly is a shame as he was one of the most prolific pass-catchers in school history through his first 2.5 seasons. Jaydon Mickens leads the team in receptions but has not been able to be the game-breaking player some expected. John Ross III will likely be on the defensive side of the ball this week to help a depleted secondary. With the UW wide receiver corps struggling and underachieving the edge goes to the Bruins.
Tight End. Washington TE’s have been relatively quiet all season long. With that being said, they have gotten meaningful contributions from Joshua Perkins and Michael Hartvigson in the blocking game. The edge here simply goes to Washington as the Bruins do not have a single TE on their roster. Edge, Huskies.
Offensive Line. The Washington Huskies O-line has been playing pretty consistently all year long despite injuries to Dexter Charles and Ben Riva. It looks like the Huskies will get their bruising LG, Charles, back this week. Having Charles back will certainly help the Dawgs establish the run in this game. On the other hand, the UCLA offensive line has been struggling. Although they have done a good enough job to pave the way for a 1,000 yard rusher, they have also given up 30 sacks. Facing the nation’s leading sack-artist in Hau’oli Kikaha will be challenge for the Bruins. At the end of the day the Huskies have allowed only 19 sacks and have been gaining momentum in the running game. Edge, Huskies.
Defensive Line. Hau’oli Kikaha as 15.5 sacks this season and has a chance to be one of only three players in NCAA history to record 20+ sacks in a single season. Kikaha is licking his chops this week as the Bruins offensive line has struggled to keep Hundley upright all season long. With that being said, Hundley is an elusive QB and the Huskies will need to wrap up and gang tackle. Up the middle, Danny Shelton is having an All-American season of his own. The Husky defensive line is truly among the nation’s elite. The UCLA Bruins have only 13 sacks and give up an average of 4.1 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Edge, Washington.
Linebackers. The Husky linebackers scored yet another defensive touchdown last weekend, this time coming from a Travis Feeney pick-six. John Timu, Travis Feeney, and Shaq Thompson have proven to be game changers all over the field. With that being said, Thompson’s role on defense has been limited as he has seen more action on the offensive side of the ball. Keishawn Bierria has stepped in and filled in for Thompson nicely when he has been asked to do so. The Bruins have a very talented linebacker unit led by Myles Jack, however they simply have not come up with the turnovers and touchdowns as their Husky counterparts. Edge, Huskies.
Defensive Secondary. With the dismissal of lockdown cornerback, Marcus Peters, the Huskies will turn to true-freshman Naijel Hale. Hundley and UCLA’s offense will certainly attack the Huskies young secondary early and often tomorrow night. If the young Dawgs can hold their own, the Washington Huskies will have a shot to win this game. The UCLA Bruins have been struggling defending the pass as well giving up 17 TDs through the air. The edge here goes to the Bruins experience and depth. Edge, UCLA.
Special Teams. The Huskies return game has simply been electrifying this season with John Ross III returning kicks and Dante Pettis handling punts. Pettis took a punt 80+ yards for a touchdown last week and will look to come up with another big play tomorrow. Korey Durkee has struggled punting the ball recently, but Cameron Van Winkle has been great in his place-kicking duties. UCLA has their own return specialist in Ishmael Adams who has scored a special teams touchdown of his own. The edge here is won by the kicking game. Washington’s Van Winkle has converted 85% of his field goals where as UCLA’s Ka’imi Fairbarin has converted only 73% of his attempts. Edge, Washington.
Washington 27 UCLA 24
The Washington Huskies will upset the #18 UCLA Bruins tomorrow night in Husky Stadium. Cyler Miles looked at his best last season against the Bruins and I think he will play one the better games in his young Husky career. On top of that, the Dawgs will establish the run with Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman, and Shaq Thompson. The Husky secondary will be tested early and struggle to find their bearings; however, Budda Baker will get his first interception as a Husky in the second half. I expect this to be a hard fought football game between two teams still searching for their identity. At the end of the day, the Husky defense comes up with one more play than the Bruin offense and secures the victory for Husky Nation. Go Dawgs!