5 Questions: UCLA vs Nebraska

Big Red Report caught up with BruinReportOnline.com's David Woods to get his thoughts on UCLA.

1.) Quarterback Josh Rosen only threw nine interceptions this season, including just two in the last six games. Were you surprised how well he took care of the football as a true freshman? 

"Actually, not hugely. I saw a lot of Josh in high school and thought he'd be the rare true freshman to acclimate pretty quickly to the college game. Couple that with playing in a system that is pretty forgiving and up tempo, I figured Rosen would be pretty good at protecting the football. He's a really smart player, and after some early hiccups (particularly a three interception outing against BYU) he mostly settled down and actually set a UCLA record for most attempts without an interception."

2.) Nebraska comes into the bowl game with a 5-7 overall record. Have you noticed a lack of enthusiam by the players to being play a team below .500 in a bowl game? What about the fans? Is this a no win for the Bruins? 

"I haven't noticed a lack of enthusiasm from the players, but there's a history, pre-dating Jim Mora, of UCLA not taking these sorts of games very seriously, so UCLA fans should always be on their guard for bowl game letdowns. I think fans are generally pretty excited for the game, particularly since there are a good number of UCLA fans in the Bay Area. I do think it's pretty much a no-win for UCLA, especially given how sneaky good Nebraska is despite the 5-7 record."

3.) UCLA has struggled to stop the run at times this season. What has been their biggest problem in the category and do you think Nebraska could have some success there? 

"Middle linebacker play has been tough this year for UCLA. Kenny Young has started for most of the year and he just didn't look comfortable for just about the entirety of the season. He started to play somewhat better toward the end of the year, but inside linebacker play was the biggest issue with the run defense early on. Losing DT Eddie Vanderdoes and LB Myles Jack to early season injury (both players were starters) also hurt the run defense quite a bit."

4.) What will be the biggest thing UCLA needs to do pull out a win? 

"UCLA needs to take this game seriously, since Nebraska is much better than its record would indicate, and needs to key on stopping Tommy Armstrong. If the Bruins can somehow limit his running lanes, UCLA's defense is actually pretty decent at stopping passing attacks and should have some success. Offensively, UCLA should be able to move the ball on Nebraska, but the offense has been prone to some inconsistency this year. If Nebraska is able to run the ball on the Bruins, and control the flow of the game, it could be a really long day for UCLA."

5.) How will this game turn out and what is your score prediction? 

"This is a tough game to predict for me because I'm relying on guesswork with regard to what Mike Riley will choose to do offensively. If Nebraska comes out running, and with the intent of giving Armstrong 15+ carries, I think Nebraska could win. UCLA hasn't stopped a running quarterback all year, and I doubt the Bruins start now in the bowl game. But if Riley comes out with the intent of establishing his pro-style offense for next year and has Armstrong throw the ball 35+ times, I like UCLA's chances of stopping the Husker offense and winning the game. That's the side of the matchup that really interests me, and the side that I think will tell the tale. At this point I'm picking UCLA in a squeaker, but don't be stunned if I pick Nebraska by game time. UCLA 34, Nebraska 31."


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