Facts and Factors
• UCLA travels up to Palo Alto to take on Stanford Thursday night. The game kicks off at 7:30 PT and will be televised by ESPN.
• UCLA (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12 South) is ranked #18 in both polls while Stanford (4-1, 3-0 Pac-12 North) is #15 and #16.
• It’s the 87th all-time meeting between the two schools, with UCLA holding the edge 48-38-3.
• Stanford, though, has been making up some considerable ground in recent years against UCLA. It boasts seven straight wins against the Bruins, which is the longest win streak in the series. It’s the longest active win streak for Stanford against any opponent (tied for seven against Washington State).
• Stanford has won the last four straight games between the two schools in Palo Alto.
• Before Stanford’s most recent seven-game winning streak, UCLA won the previous five meetings in a row. The last win came in 2008 at the Rose Bowl.
• With the exception of World War II, UCLA and Stanford have met in every season since 1925, and 71 times in the last 70 years (twice in 2012).
• UCLA has set a school record for winning 12 straight games away from the Rose Bowl.
• UCLA has had some pretty demoralizing recent losses against Stanford. There was the two back-to-back losses in 2012, one of those being in the Pac-12 Championship. There was last year’s devastating loss when UCLA was a top-ten team and Stanford was struggling. A win would have made UCLA the Pac-12 South champions, but at the Rose Bowl a 6-5 Cardinal team dominated UCLA, 31-10.
• UCLA is coming off a pretty demoralizing loss last week against ASU. Ranked #7 going into the game, a win probably would have vaulted the Bruins to a top-four ranking, but UCLA lost to the Sun Devils, 38-23.
• Under Jim Mora, it’s pretty well-accepted that the two programs standing in his way of taking UCLA to the next level are Stanford and Oregon. Mora, in his fourth year at UCLA, is 0-4 against the Cardinal.
• Since losing to Northwestern in its season opener, 16-6, the Cardinal has vastly improved, especially on offense. Since that loss, it’s one of only five FBS teams to score at least 31 points in its past three games.
• David Shaw (43) is in his fifth year on The Farm, with an overall record of 46-13. Shaw initially made a name for himself coaching in the NFL as a position assistant before taking over as offensive coordinator at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh. He is credited with keeping alive the Stanford program's resurgence under Harbaugh. In his first three seasons Shaw had the Cardinal finishing top 10 in the Coaches’ Poll, before not being ranked at the end of last season. He has won three Pac-12 North titles and two Pac-12 Championships.
• Shaw is 5-0 against UCLA.
• UCLA will play Cal next Thursday, making it consecutive Thursday night games. Jim Mora has made it very clear how adamantly he opposes the scheduling, citing it is too tough on his student athletes.
• Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan statistically is among Stanford’s all-time best, among the all-time leaders in Completion Percentage, Passing Efficiency, Touchdown Passes and Total Offense. Among others. He’s currently third on the list of Passing Yards at 7,673, trailing #2 Jim Plunkett at 7,806 (#1 is Steven Stenstrom with 10,911).
• UCLA is 11-6 against ranked opponents under Jim Mora. Five of those six losses have come against either Stanford or Oregon, and four against Stanford. The only loss to a ranked team other than Oregon or Stanford was against ASU in 2013.
• The main UCLA story line: It's a big game for UCLA, needing to rid itself of the Stanford bugaboo and bounce back after the demoralizing loss against ASU.
• Stanford is favored by 4.5 points.
• The weather forecast expects a high of 80 degrees on Thursday, with a temperature in the mid-60s by game time.
Stanford’s Offense vs. UCLA’s Defense
The leaves change, children get older, and Pete Carroll’s former assistants get fired by USC, but one thing that hasn’t changed in quite a long time is Stanford’s offense. It’s the same pro-style behemoth it’s been for almost the last decade, with a powerful offensive line, good running backs, an efficient, effective quarterback, and a pervasive desire to pound defenses until they collapse under a deluge of power runs and play-action passes.
Of course, the season didn’t start out quite that way for Stanford. The offense looked particularly inept through the first six quarters of the season, scoring just six points against Northwestern in a loss on opening weekend and then just ten points in the first half against UCF. Since then, though, Stanford’s offense has operated at an elite level, scoring 21 second half points against UCF, putting up 41 on USC, 42 on Oregon State, and then blasting Arizona for 55 last week.
Points, as always, don’t tell the full tale. How’s this: Stanford is averaging 6.6 yards per play this year (16th best in the country), but 7.3 yards per play in the last three games (6th best in that stretch of time). The rushing offense has been good, averaging five yards per carry (5.8 in the last three games), but the passing offense has been even better. Stanford is averaging an absurd 9.6 yards per pass attempt this season (6th best in the country), and 11.4 yards per pass attempt in the last three games, which is the 3rd best mark in the country, just two spots behind Baylor.
There isn’t an obvious weakness in the offensive attack. Across the board, Stanford is full of good, solid players at every position, with great size and strength that creates mismatches at many levels.
The most obvious improvement, though, has been the play of redshirt senior quarterback Kevin Hogan (6’4, 218). Hogan hasn’t been a bad quarterback over his career at Stanford, but he has been marked by inconsistency. UCLA fans wouldn’t know it, of course, since he has historically reserved his best performances for the Bruins — in his career he has completed 65 of 88 passes against UCLA (74%) for 5 touchdowns and 1 interception, and has also rushed for 138 yards on 27 carries (5.1 yards per carry) with a touchdown. His completion percentage and yards per rush against the Bruins are both significantly higher than his career numbers. This year, for the first time, he has begun playing every game like he’s playing UCLA. In the last four games, he has completed 72% of his passes for nine touchdowns and just one interception, despite being a bit hobbled by an ankle sprain. He’s using his eyes particularly well to look off coverage, and has shown tremendous patience in the pocket. It’s been the most impressive stretch of his career.
Much of the reason for that is an offensive line that has improved significantly from a year ago, when it was breaking in several new starters. The group has protected Hogan better than a year ago (they’ve given up seven sacks through five games, and he seems to be hurried much less than last season). Senior left tackle Kyle Murphy (6’7, 301) has been impressive so far this year, using his length and strength to not only protect Hogan but also be a bit of a bully in the run game. Next to him, senior left guard Joshua Garnett (6’5, 321) is just a massive dude who is an absolute force in the run game. Expect Stanford to run often behind those two, as they are probably the two best run blockers in the unit. At center, senior Graham Shuler (6’4, 285) returns for his second year as a starter, and he and senior right guard Johnny Caspers (6’4, 300) have been very solid in the run game as well. If there’s a slight weak link, it’s sophomore right tackle Casey Tucker (6’6, 300), the lone new starter in the group. Murphy switched to left tackle to take over for Andrus Peat (who departed for the NFL), which opened up the right tackle job for Tucker. He hasn’t been horrible, but he has been susceptible to some pass rushers, and got burned a couple of times against Arizona.
The running game has been strong this year, and Stanford has a group of four talented players it’ll likely use. The key name is obviously sophomore Christian McCaffrey (6’0, 201). McCaffrey bulked up a little bit in the offseason, sacrificing a little bit of speed for the ability to play with a little bit more power between the tackles, and it appears to have paid off. He’s averaging 5.7 yards per carry, and is also the team’s leading receiver with 15 catches for 168 yards this season. He isn’t quite the power back Stanford has typically enjoyed in the past, but he’s strong enough to break through arm tackles, and boasts a pretty good burst through the line of scrimmage. The “power back” of the group is redshirt senior Remound Wright (5’9, 205). He’s not a traditionally sized power back, but he runs with a real forward lean and plenty of strength. Stanford typically likes to use him sparingly throughout the game, but will turn to him often at the goal line. So far this year, he has seven of Stanford’s 12 touchdowns on the ground. Senior Barry Sanders (5’10, 198) has provided some big play ability this year, with a long touchdown in each of Stanford’s last two games. The last in the group is the wildcard, true freshman Bryce Love (5’10, 184). Love is the fastest player in the group, and Stanford has tried to get him the ball in multiple ways. He has run the ball 10 times this year on a variety of different types of runs (sweeps, designed carries, and Wildcat plays) for a total of 56 yards, and has also caught six balls for 156 yards a touchdown. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Stanford try to get him the ball four or five times on Thursday.
It’s a typical Stanford offense from a receiving perspective. The Cardinal works the ball around to a variety of running backs, tight ends, and big receivers, and most of them are very sure-handed. Senior Michael Rector (6’1, 189) is the big play threat in the group, with the most speed among the starters and great ability to make contested catches. He is averaging almost 20 yards per catch this year on his 12 catches, and also has three touchdowns. At 6’1, though, he’s actually the smallest of the main Stanford receivers. Redshirt senior Devon Cajuste (6’4, 227) is a matchup nightmare for most teams, with the size to catch balls over most defensive backs and pretty good speed for his size. Junior tight end Austin Hooper (6’4, 248) is a definite pass-catching threat while also being an effective run blocker. Stanford loves to go to him off of play-action, and he’s another matchup issue for most teams. As if that weren’t enough, Stanford also has junior Francis Owusu (6’3, 212), sophomore tight end Dalton Schultz (6’6, 233), and redshirt senior Rollins Stallworth (6’4, 210) who can all present sizable matchup problems for a defense. It’s probably the biggest, tallest receiving corps in the Pac-12, and perhaps even the country. Heck, aside from Rector, the smallest guy in the bunch is true freshman Trent Irwin (6’2, 199) who has quickly become one of Hogan’s reliable targets on third down.
So, UCLA’s defense definitely has a problem on its hands on Thursday.
The Bruins, as we’ve documented in recent weeks, have been severely hampered by injuries. UCLA has lost a key starter for the season at every level of the defense (DT Eddie Vanderdoes, LB Myles Jack, and CB Fabian Moreau). UCLA was also without the services of starting linebacker Jayon Brown and starting cornerback Marcus Rios two weeks ago when the Bruins lost to ASU (both of whom should be back this week). The losses have caused UCLA to have to mix and match on defense, with Randall Goforth switching to corner, Tahaan Goodman starting at safety, and players like Isaako Savaiinaea, Eli Ankou, and Matt Dickerson discovering bigger roles.
Probably the highlight for the defense in recent weeks has been the play of Savaiinaea. Despite bouncing around between several different positions last season, he has filled in at Mike linebacker through the last couple of games and has played particularly well. He’s the surest tackler outside of the defensive line, for sure. Linebacker play in general, though, has been spotty, with Kenny Young really struggling so far this season, and that has helped lead to some big rushing days for opposing offenses.
The defensive line has played relatively well, given the loss of Vanderdoes. Eli Ankou has been better than most probably would have expected, and star nose tackle Kenneth Clark has picked up the slack quite a bit. He almost single-handedly stopped a couple of ASU drives in the last game.
The secondary has been tasked with playing off coverage most of the year, and the results have been mixed. Against ASU, the secondary allowed a couple of easy conversions when they were playing off coverage. Generally, though, despite the loss of Moreau and the temporary loss of Rios, the secondary hasn’t been noticeably bad.
This is a dreadful matchup for UCLA, and for most teams at this point. Stanford’s offense is operating with machine-like efficiency, especially in recent weeks, and UCLA’s defense being relatively depleted makes this a really tough one for the Bruins. If you factor in that UCLA has been unable to do much against this Stanford offense in the last three years, this becomes an even worse matchup.
UCLA will have to attempt some different things to match up against Stanford’s size and strength. On the outside, we’d really like to see UCLA press the receivers more. Stanford has size, but doesn’t have a great deal of speed on the outside, so there’s a chance that UCLA could make it tough for Hogan to throw to open targets if the corners play up on the receivers. It’s worth a shot, at any rate, because if the Bruins play off of Stanford’s receiver, Hogan will be more than willing to throw underneath the coverage all game and generate six and seven yards gains at a time.
We’d like to see UCLA mix it up a little bit more up front. So far this season, we haven’t seen many elaborate stunts or blitzes, and this might be the game to go for it. If UCLA attempts to go with the three or four-man rush for most of the game, Hogan will have all the time in the world to throw to his big targets, and that’s not a formula for success. If ever there was a game to take some risks, it’d be this one, since a bend-but-don’t-break game plan almost plays directly into methodical Stanford’s hands.
Even with a high-risk/high-reward strategy, though, this is going to be the significantly tougher side of the matchup for the Bruins. If Vanderdoes were healthy, we’d feel better about UCLA’s ability to match up against the run, but Ankou, despite his improvement, isn’t that same kind of force against the run. UCLA will probably need to load up the box at times, and that could create some good opportunities for Hogan off of play-action. UCLA’s tackling hasn’t been great this year, and it’ll need to be perfect against Stanford’s group of running backs.
We just don’t see a real way that UCLA wins this side of the matchup, outside of Hogan having an inexplicably horrible game, or David Shaw having one of his weird games where he suddenly gets infatuated with the Wildcat in the red zone. Those two things could absolutely happen, but we’re not betting on it.
Stanford’s Defense vs. UCLA’s Offense
Where there is a considerable change from years past is on the defensive side of the ball. Finally, Stanford actually did have some major roster turnover on defense this past offseason, and so far, the Cardinal has experienced some growing pains, as we might have predicted prior to the season.
Of course, it’s Stanford, so the growing pains for the Cardinal would be another team’s elite defense, but still, there’s some relative weakness. Stanford is allowing 4.7 yards per play (29th in the country) which is a significant uptick from the 4.1 yards per play the Cardinal allowed a year ago. The rush defense has taken a similar hit, with Stanford giving up 3.5 yards per play after giving up 3.1 a year ago, and the pass defense is in the same boat, with Stanford giving up 6.2 yards per pass attempt after giving up 5.5 last year.
So, across the board, it’s a weaker Stanford defense than a year ago, but still pretty comfortably in the top 30 according to many metrics. It stands to reason, of course, since Stanford lost seven starters from last year’s defense, including the entire defensive line, and the newcomers throughout the front seven have been a bit banged up.
The defensive line took a major hit early on when sophomore Harrison Phillips (6’4, 278), the starting nose tackle, tore his ACL in the opener against Northwestern. It was a thin rotation to begin with, and with Phillips out, Stanford has only three truly reliable defensive linemen. It’s still a pretty talented front, with redshirt senior defensive end Brennan Scarlett (6’4, 264) and senior defensive end Aziz Shittu (6’3, 279) both having plenty of experience even if they haven’t been starters. Redshirt freshman Solomon Thomas (6’3, 271) has taken over as the nose tackle, and he’s played pretty well in his first season of action. The issue for Stanford is that there is very little depth of any kind. Behind Scarlett at defensive end, Thomas is listed as the backup. Behind Thomas at nose tackle, Shittu is listed as the backup. And behind Shittu, senior Nate Lohn (6’3, 270) is also banged up and is questionable for this week.
So far, the defensive line hasn’t been a particularly disruptive force for the Cardinal. Shittu, Thomas, and Scarlett have combined for 8.5 tackles for loss and just two sacks, which is a far cry from the defensive lines of years past for Stanford. They’ve been solid enough against the run, but they’re not creating the kind of havoc in the backfield that Stanford has been known to create for the past six years or so.
Some of that has to fall on the linebackers as well, who also haven’t been hugely disruptive. Again, though, they have made up for it with sure tackling against the run. The leader of the group is senior inside linebacker Blake Martinez (6’2, 245), who is leading the team in tackles by a wide margin with 63. He’s sort of a do-everything linebacker, with the ability to play in space when needed but also extremely stout against the run. Redshirt senior Kevin Anderson (6’4, 244) was expected to join Martinez as one of the best tandems of linebackers in the country, but Anderson has been sidelined for three games with what’s believed to be an injury to a pectoral muscle. Without Anderson, Stanford has turned to redshirt freshman outside linebacker Joey Alfieri (6’3, 240), who has played fairly well in relief. Junior outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi (6’3, 242) has been the most disruptive of the linebacker corps, with 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks to go along with three quarterback hurries. Rounding out the group is junior inside linebacker Kevin Palma (6’2, 252). Palma, from what we can gather, is the player most likely to leave the field in nickel situations. If there’s one thing you should take away from this linebacker group, it’s the overall size and tackling ability. While this isn’t the disruptive Stanford defense of years past, it’s still a very good tackling group that can prevent big plays up the middle.
The secondary is fairly talented, but somewhat inexperienced. Probably the most experienced in the group is senior safety Kodi Whitfield (6’2, 202), who successfully transitioned to safety from wide receiver last season. He’s joined in the safety group by another converted offensive player, redshirt senior Dallas Lloyd (6’3, 207), who moved to safety last year from running back. Both have played a solid amount, though this is each’s first year as a full-time starter. Redshirt senior cornerback Ronnie Harris (5’10, 172) started three games last year and is a full-time starter this season. He doesn’t have great size, but he has nice ball skills, and already has seven pass breakups this year. On the other side, redshirt freshman Alijah Holder (6’2, 184) has very good size and athleticism for the position, but can get picked on a little bit in the screen game when he has to fight off blockers. The nickel, who will see a lot of playing time, is primarily sophomore Terrence Alexander (5’10, 182), though freshman Quenton Meeks (6’2, 195) will also see some time. Meeks has impressed in limited time so far this year.
If you’re looking to diagnose weaknesses in Stanford’s defense, in order, it’s probably the thinness on the defensive line, the lack of a great pass rush, and some inexperience in the secondary. Stanford still tackles really, really well, and it’s still a very disciplined group that doesn’t make many mistakes.
UCLA’s offense is coming off a generally poor performance against Arizona State two weeks ago that was marked by a pronounced inability to run the ball in the first half, and a reluctance to go away from the run when it wasn’t working early. As we wrote about last week, UCLA has gotten a little more conservative with its first down choices in the last three games, electing to run considerably more than pass, especially on first downs in the first half, and it looked like ASU was able to key on that tendency.
UCLA’s offensive line also didn’t play well, for really the first time this season. The interior offensive linemen especially struggled, with Alex Redmond and Jake Brendel both just whiffing on blocks at various points in the game. At this point, it’s probably fair to chalk it up as an anomaly, since the line has been so good for most of the year, but it’s obviously something to watch.
Josh Rosen didn’t have his best performance statistically, but given the amount of pressure he was under, he actually played a decent enough game. He had at least a few balls that were dropped by his receivers, and only had a couple of poor decisions on throws. He has been above average this year for a college quarterback, which is something that probably every UCLA fan would have taken in a heartbeat before the start of the season.
The running game was stymied against ASU, but little of the fault should fall on the running backs, from what we saw. Paul Perkins has been very good all year at making something out of nothing, and there were several times against the Sun Devils where he gained a yard or two when he reasonably could have been dropped for a three-yard loss. ASU’s run defense is now in the top 15 in the country from a yards per play perspective, and UCLA won’t play a run defense as good as that the rest of the year. We would fully expect that to be the worst rushing performance for UCLA this season.
The offense is probably not as bad as it showed in the first half against ASU. The offensive line played very poorly, and the offensive play-calling was far too predictable in the first half of that game. With ten days to adjust, we’d expect a more effective offensive showing this week against Stanford.
Based on the talent and personnel, we’d probably give the edge to UCLA, since we think this is a year where UCLA should reasonably be able to run against a thin Stanford front while also being able to get the ball out to the edge in space against Stanford’s inexperienced secondary.
The issue in picking UCLA in this side of the matchup, though, is that Stanford’s coaching staff has been able to shut down this offense year-in and year-out, and that gives us a little trepidation. If UCLA is predictable in its offensive play-calling (and, against Stanford, UCLA has very much gone to a run-on-first-down strategy that hasn’t elicited great results), then, even with inferior personnel when compared to years past, the Cardinal is plenty talented enough to bottle up UCLA’s attack.
Here’s what we’ll say: UCLA, if it elects to, can probably use wide receiver screens to good effect against Stanford’s corners on the edge. UCLA has more physical receivers, and should be able to get solid chunks of yardage in the quick passing game. That kind of attack could get Rosen in a nice rhythm early, which is key. Then, given the thinness of Stanford’s defensive line, we’d like to see UCLA go consistently up-tempo, because that should wear down Stanford’s front as the game goes on, which should open up bigger running lanes toward the middle stages of the game.
We’d also say that this is probably a team where UCLA can take a few risks in the passing game. Stanford’s secondary is inexperienced, and the Cardinal doesn’t have a great pass rush at this stage of the season. A few well-designed deep balls could give UCLA some quick scores. We’d also like to see more of that two-back set that UCLA used in the second half against ASU, because that could also help to space out the middle, and the Bruins can throw to either Nate Starks or Perkins out of that set since both are good pass catchers.
As we said in the previous section about Stanford’s offense, Stanford is almost certainly going to score a good number of points against UCLA’s defense. The key is going to be for UCLA to keep pace against Stanford’s defense. It’s completely possible, and if UCLA uses the pass to set up the run early, we’d even say probable. But if UCLA is conservative early and has a few three-and-outs in its first handful of series, the Bruins could fall into a big hole.
Stanford’s kicker is redshirt junior Conrad Ukropina (6’1, 193), and he has been mostly excellent so far this year taking over for Jordan Williamson. He has made seven of eight field goals, with a long of 52 yards, and multiple 40+ yard kicks. His one miss was an inexplicable one from 28 yards against Oregon State. Quietly, though, Ka'imi Fairbairn has actually been better for UCLA, making seven of eight as well, but with his only miss from 50 yards. He actually made a career-long 53-yarder against ASU. We’ll give a slight edge to UCLA here.
In the punting game, Stanford uses a couple of punters in junior Alex Robinson (6’0, 207) and freshman Jake Bailey (6’2, 186). Bailey was initially slated to be a placekicker, but with Ukropina kicking really well, Bailey has switched to punter. Bailey has been primarily the short-yardage punter, coming into coffin corner punts, while Robinson is more of the open field punter, with a big leg (he’s averaging 43 yards per punt). Robinson has been pretty good, with seven punts downed inside the 20 and just two touchbacks in 15 punts. UCLA’s punting situation is poor. Matt Mengel has not been good this year (38.1 yard average on 19 punts) and his fellow punter, Adam Searl (who had actually been better this year) is suspended indefinitely after being arrested on suspicion of rape. The edge goes to Stanford.
Christian McCaffrey has been one of the best kick returners in the Pac-12 this year, with multiple long returns, though no touchdowns at this point. He’s averaging 25.6 yards per kickoff return. He hasn’t been as good on punt returns, but he’s only had eight tries. For UCLA, Devin Fuller has been the primary kick and punt returner this year, and he has also been very good on kick returns, averaging 26.3 yards per return, including a couple of long ones. He’s actually been better on punts, with nine returns for 131 yards, with an average return of 14.6 yards. UCLA has started to work Ishmael Adams back in as well. We’ll give the edge here to UCLA.
UCLA’s kick and punt return coverage teams are very good, despite a couple of blown opportunities against ASU. The Bruins have given up an average of 22.9 yards per kickoff return, and UCLA has allowed just two punt returns for a grand total of -1 yards this season. Stanford’s kickoff return team, though, is arguably even better, allowing just 20.9 yards per kickoff return. On punts, Stanford has given up 17 yards on three returns, which is actually better than UCLA’s net punting since Stanford’s punters are generally kicking the ball father. So, the edge here goes to the Cardinal.
Stanford has absolutely been the buggiest of bugaboos for UCLA over the last three years. The Bruins, aside from that almost dreamlike Pac-12 Championship game, have been mostly dominated by the Cardinal, culminating in an ignominious 31-10 defeat in the Rose Bowl last season that saw a 6-5 Stanford team roll over playoff-aspirant UCLA.
Every year there’s the possibility for change, though, and Stanford certainly is a different team than last season. Though the offense is better than it was a year ago, the defense is somewhat significantly worse, and is vulnerable in key spots. On the flip side, UCLA is more physically mature than it was a year ago, and the offensive line is a significant step up from where it was a year ago.
And that’s really the key for UCLA in this game — the UCLA offense. Every year, UCLA has been unable to generate much of anything against the Cardinal (again, outside of that Pac-12 Championship game). With an improved and mature offensive line, and given Stanford’s relative weakness on defense, this is the year where UCLA needs to generate consistent yardage if it’s ever going to shake that Stanford-sized monkey off of its back.
It’s even more key because Stanford’s offense is so good this year, and UCLA’s defense is so depleted. We’re sure that Bradley has a few tricks up his sleeve, given his experience dealing with similar types of offense, but at a certain point, Stanford is going to wear down the defense and start racking up big chunks of yards on the ground. If UCLA’s offense is unable to hold serve, this could end up being a pretty ugly game.
We’ll say that Stanford will generally be able to move the ball against UCLA’s defense, and that UCLA’s offense, after a slow start, will be able to start moving and wear down Stanford’s depleted defense. Ultimately, though, we think Stanford’s ability to have methodical touchdown drives and stay on schedule will be too much for UCLA to overcome, and the Bruins will lose in a game that comes down to the final couple of possessions.