Stanford has dominated like this a few times this year, it just has done so against Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State. Unfortunately, for the first time in 2014 the Cardinal put together a complete effort against a good team, and the Bruins lost in the semifinals of their Personal Pac-12 Championship (or, if you really want to twist the knife, the Sweet 16 of the National Championship tournament), ending the regular season. We were at the Miami game, and the mood after this loss was pretty darn similar. Ugh. Three straight senior day losses. The following stats should probably be rated NC-17.
As always, we use:
- Yards Per Stop to measure efficiency
- Yards Per Play to measure explosiveness
- Points Per Drive to measure scoring
- Points Per Trip Inside the 40 to measure drive finishing
- Field Position Margin to measure field position
- Turnover Margin to measure turnovers
This was a worse beating than the Oregon game in both Yards Per Play and, perhaps most infuriatingly against the worst team in the league at taking advantage of scoring opportunities, Points Per Trip Inside the 40.
After that opening touchdown drive, when Thomas Duarte and Paul Perkins looked the difference makers they have been all year, the offense fell apart in its worst performance all year. That this was against the best defense in the Pac-12 makes little difference—the Bruins still allowed the Cardinal to best their average numbers in every category. The efficiency that the Bruin offense enjoyed for most of the year disintegrated and the big plays that buried Southern Cal, Washington, and Arizona disappeared—the only possible silver lining to this performance was Perkins wrapping up the regular season Pac-12 rushing title.
Only keeping the opponent out of the end zone on four of their eight non garbage time drives is not going to win a game. Allowing an offense missing its best receiver to bank over 7 yards per play is not going to win a division. Four touchdowns and a field goal on five trips allowed inside the 40 against a David Shaw team is how you extend the losing streak against Stanford to an incomprehensible 7 games. This was not the worst defensive game of the year by raw numbers—Oregon was worse—but if we account for the average level of play of the opposing offense, this was by far the most disastrous outing by a UCLA defense in some time.
The most infuriating part of this game was that the Bruins actually did a good job of taking care of the little things that have doomed them against the Cardinal before, winning the field position battle pretty decisively and avoiding costly turnovers. The best starting field position Stanford got before garbage time was their own 36, and none of their scoring drives traveled fewer than 75 yards. The one turnover in the box score came from the blown fake field goal, and it basically functioned as an armpunt.
That game was bad, really bad. Really really really bad. Our therapist thinks we probably should stop talking about that game, though, so we will. The Bruins finish the regular season right where they finished the last one, 9-3 and in second place in the South Division, awaiting the call from a second-tier bowl for the chance to get to ten wins. Next in this space: a regular season statistical review.
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