Old rivals Washington, and UCLA square off in the Rose Bowl on Saturday night as both teams try to bounce back from losses the previous week. On paper before the season you would have to favor the Bruins by quite a bit due to all the talent, experience, and depth on the roster. Coach Dorrell figured this was the year his team would challenge for a BCS berth, and conference championship. Injuries, attitude, and inconsistent play are hurting the Bruins right now.
Washington surprised in it's first two games defeating Boise State, and Syracuse in dominating style. The Huskies disappointingly fell to Ohio State last weekend at home after leading 7-3 at the half. Mistakes on offense, and special teams contributed to that loss, especially in the second half. UW looks to rebound and get some help to take all the load off Jake Locker.
This should be a close game unless one of the teams self destructs, and as we saw last week, they both have the potential to do that. I think we will see a different UCLA team this week. After the beating they took against Utah expect them to bounce back strong unless Dorrell has truly lost control of his team.
Quarterback - Washington - UCLA's Ben Olson is coming off a disastrous game against Utah and will likely miss this one because of a concussion. Pat Cowan will likely start for the Bruins and has been out most of the Fall with a hamstring injury. Jake has the edge even if both of those guys were healthy, but he has some mistakes of his own to eliminate.
Running Back - UCLA - Markey and Bell are a good tandem, but neither is NFL quality. Markey catches the ball well out of the backfield while Bell is the better rusher. UW's running game has been stalled the last six quarters, and could have problems this week against a UCLA team that is tough on the run. Louis Rankin has had some of the best games of his career against UCLA. Markey is dangerous over the middle as a receiver sneaking out of the backfield and will challenge the Husky linebackers.
Wide Receiver - UCLA - The Bruins top wideout will miss this game, but Cowan, and Breazell are very solid receivers. Washington has been very inconsistent the lat two weeks by dropping plenty of balls which have resulted in stalled drives. Lappano plans on getting some different players such as Ellis, and Goodwin in the mix this week.
Tight End - UCLA - Washington's Tight Ends have been absent all season from the offense and that should continue on Saturday as UW spreads out the field against the Bruins.
Offensive Line - Even - On paper you have to give this one to UCLA, but after all the sacks, penalties, turnovers, and the loss of Sevaga to injury you have to call it even and let them both slug it out. UW has done a decent job protecting Locker, but they haven't given Rankin enough room to run lately.
Defensive Line - Washington - The Huskies didn't have one of their better games last week on the line since they didn't pick up a sack against an immobile QB. Ohio State's mammoth offensive line may have had a lot to do with that. UCLA will be missing it's top lineman for this one so while this is close to call I would say the advantage is tipped in UW's favor.
Linebacker - Washington - EJ Savannah is going to be an all league player, you have to like the way he is playing. Dan Howell is back this week after sitting out against tOSU. Once again this is a close one to call, but give the Huskies the edge since they are back at full strength. The unit was criticized last week however by a former player, and influential insiders by not being prepared properly in their read package against Ohio State.
Defensive Back - UCLA - The Bruins have a lot more talent and depth back there than we have at this point. Vonzell McDowell was torched last week by Ohio State, and look for the Bruins to continue to extend the trend. Byron Davenport is back again this week for the Huskies and if he can stay healthy he will make a difference. UW's safeties have been adequate so far, but they lack a big hammer in the middle. Look for Nate Williams to develop into that hammer.
Special Teams - UCLA - I have to go with the Bruins because until Washington eliminates such mistakes as having kicks blocked and fumbling kickoff returns they will continue to give away points to the opposition each week.
Coaching - Washington - Willingham, and Lappano own Karl Dorrell, nuff said. Ty would be 2-0 against UCLA if White, and Hemphill hadn't have taken a play off against them two years ago.
After all that I am predicting a 27-24 victory for the Huskies against a team with superior depth, experience, and talent. UCLA is still in disarray, and poorly coached. UW has played some of the best games of Ty's tenure against the Bruins home, and away. Washington traditionally plays the LA schools tough, and forget about the Rose Bowl jinx, Willingham knows how to prepare a team for the road. Jake Locker will be the best player on the field, and UCLA will not be up to par at the QB position after the shellacking of last week. Cowan may be more mobile than Olson, but his hamstring will limit that mobility. UCLA will be in big trouble if he comes up lame. UCLA will be missing 2/3 of it's entire starting lineup for this one, and it will be a true test for their depth to rise to the occasion.