HD Predictions: UCLA

The HD staff gives their predictions for Saturday's showdown at Jerry World.

Chip Brown’s Pick

I actually think Texas will be in this game into the fourth quarter with a chance to win it, but I'm not picking UT to win another game against a quality opponent until I see some improvement from the Texas offense and special teams.

But here are 5 REASONS why I think the Horns will have a chance to beat UCLA at Jerryworld on a national FOX broadcast:

#1 ..... UCLA has failed to run the ball consistently (80 carries for 260 yards, 3.3 ypc), which has meant star QB Brett Hundley having to throw the ball a bunch, which he does very well. (68.8 percent completion rate, 3 TDs, 1 INT this season).

But even though Hundley throws the ball well, his offensive line hasn't protected him well.

Hundley's been sacked 9 times (5 times in a 28-20 victory at Virginia in which the Bruins' D scored 3 TDs; and 4 times by a Memphis team that went 3-9 last season but hung with UCLA into the 4Q of a 42-35 Bruins' win at the Rose Bowl last week).

Hundley has been sacked 96 times over the past two seasons and two games - more than any other QB in Division I over the same time. (That's 20 more sacks than Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly, who has been sacked second-most in that time.)

The Texas D produced 6 sacks against BYU, and that was against a more elusive, dual-threat QB in Taysom Hill. If the Texas D can do the same to Hundley, UT will be in this game to the end.

#2 .... The UCLA defense is incredibly athletic, but the Bruins tend to overpursue against the run, so if Texas can use some misdirection or find some cut-back lanes in the running game, the Horns may find some real estate.

The Bruins are giving up a ton of yards through the air and will be without FS Randall Goforth (shoulder), who had an INT return for a TD against Virginia.

Texas will need to expand the field in the passing game and throw between the hash marks this week - not just outside of them.

#3 .... UCLA's junior K Ka'imi Fairbairn may be more shaky than UT's Nick Rose.

Fairbairn is 0-for-1 on his only FG attempt this season (from 44 yards at Virginia) and has missed an extra point!

#4 .... UCLA coach Jim Mora said this week his team may be struggling with expectations. You kidding me? That means the team is mentally weak, and the coach hasn't been able to get players' minds right.

#5 .....Texas players' minds should be right after Charlie Strong got after them this week.

But, again, I'm not picking Texas to win another game against a quality opponent until I see enough life from the Horns' offense and special teams to exploit another team's weaknesses.

UCLA 28, Texas 27

William Wilkerson’s Pick

Texas will open up the playbook, though, still not as much as Longhorns fans would like.

The Longhorns will throw deep early and complete at least one long pass that will have UT fans scratching their heads as to where that was last week.

Jaxon Shipley will play and lead the team in receptions but just below him will be Marcus Johnson, who will easily have the best game of his season.

Texas will still have trouble running the ball even with Swoopes keeping it more on zone reads. The holes simply won’t be there for Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray.

This is the type of game that the Longhorns could really use a big boost from their special teams. They’ll get it from Nick Rose who will be perfect on field goals, but will be tough sledding in kickoff return and punt return.

UT just won’t be able to score enough even though the defense will play inspired and keep Texas in the game until early in the fourth quarter when the Bruins begin to get the best of a tired Longhorns defense.

Brett Hundley throws for over 250 and two touchdowns and a UCLA roster full of Texans will have a happy homecoming.

However, the Longhorns will come away from this one feeling better about the effort they gave than against BYU… Steps forward despite the loss.

UCLA 27, UT 20

Jason Higdon’s Pick

Something tells me that Texas is going to be able to move the ball on a UCLA defense that hasn’t looked overly dominant against Virginia and Memphis

Shawn Watson will open up the playbook enough to give Tyrone Swoopes the flexibility he years, and he’ll be able to move the ball through the air easier than Texas will be able to on the ground.

The Longhorns will play inspired football, Jordan Hicks will again play like a first-team All-Big 12 selection, and the defensive line will pressure Brett Hundley enough to get at least one interception.

Special teams will be key for the Longhorns.

Texas 27, UCLA 20

Nick Castillo’s Pick

In its first two games against Virginia and Memphis, UCLA hasn’t looked too impressive. The Bruins have given up 55 points over the past two weekends. Furthermore, Brett Hundley hasn’t looked much like a Heisman contender as he’s ?only thrown for three touchdowns this season. UCLA also ranks 99th in rushing offense. If Texas’ defense plays strong then they could upset the Bruins.

But after last week’s horrendous performance against BYU, the Longhorns look even worse.

The only way Texas has a puncher’s chance is if the defense comes out strong and the offense is able to put up points early. But finding the end zone will be a daunting task after the offense didn’t score until late in the third quarter last week. ?The offense will have to get the running game started despite a young and inexperienced offensive line. The playbook must also allow for Tyrone Swoopes, in his second collegiate start, to make a big play whether it be on the ground or in the air.

Unfortunately, I think this game will play much like last week, the defense will keep Texas in the game but, like BYU, UCLA will hit the Longhorns with too many blows.

UCLA 34, Texas 10

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