UCLA 101: Can WSU make it 7 out of 9?

UCLA COMES TO Pullman having snapped a five game conference losing streak against UW last week. But the Bruins are a bit battered and bruised. Yet they remain in the hunt for bowl consideration at 4-5. But many a recent would-be successful Bruin season has been derailed by Wazzu -- the Cougs have won six of the past eight against UCLA. If WSU is to win Saturday, here's what needs to happen.

Cougars (1-8) vs Bruins (4-5)
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
2:00 pm Pacific Time

WHERE:
Martin Stadium (35,117)

TELEVISION:
Fox College Sports, (delayed FSN-NW)

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
UCLA by 18

LAST MEETING:
UCLA topped WSU with a 28-3 victory.

THE SERIES:
UCLA leads 18-36-1, Cougs have won 6 of the last 8 meetings

CF.C PREDICTION:
Cougars 21, Bruins 17

THE BRUINS ON OFFENSE

Players to Know
Kevin Prince/Kevin Craft, QBs: Last year's starter Craft took over for this year's starter, the freshman Prince, after he suffered a concussion last week. Prince is expected back this week, but either presents an opportunity for interceptions if the Cougs can get pressure on them.
Jonathan Franklin, RB: One of several promising freshmen for Rick Neuheisel. He's on the smaller side, but very versatile.

Overview
The Coug fans are pretty familiar with Neuheisel's passing based offense run by Norm Chow. He has mixed in some wildcat formation just to be creative, as it seems many teams have this year.

Strategy
Inhibiting passing efficiency is the key. Pressure the QB's as much as possible and try not to give up the big plays.

THE BRUINS ON DEFENSE

Players to Know
Brian Price, DT: With a fierce combination of size and speed, he is one of the most dominant players in the conference and will be playing on Sundays. He is among the national leaders in sacks and tackles for a loss.
Kyle Bosworth, LB: He and twin brother Korey are nephews to the famous Oklahoma/Seahawk linebacker. He leads the team in tackles on the weakside.

Overview
UCLA runs a fairly basic 4-3 system and relies on their talent level to carry them. They are banged up all over the place, but showed a lot of depth against UW last week.

Strategy
The Bruins get tremendous pressure up front, a weakness of WSU's. When Tuel has had time to operate, he really looks like he is capable of picking apart any defense, but while Tuel is a game time decision, Marshall Lobbestael it would appear is in line for the start. Regardless of who is under center, it is more a matter of basic execution by the o-line than strategy these days and they simply must execute better if WSU is to be productive on offense.

THE BRUINS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Kicker Kai Forbath and punter Jeff Locke are among the best in the business at their respective positions.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Despite all the talk of "resurgence" coming out of L.A. this week, UCLA does not have a potent offense. Until the fourth quarter of the Oregon State game, and last week against the Huskies, it was a downright dismal offense. If the Cougs can piece together a defense, the game could be decided in the second half. Offensively, the Cougars must have balance in order to blunt the pass rush. The Cougs must run, and move the chains when they do. If UCLA is allowed to pin their ears back without concern for the running game jumping up to bite them, it could be a long day. Lobbestael is likely going to have to make quick, accurate passes, but the key is if the Cougs can make some noise on the ground. RB Dwight Tardy had perhaps the game of his career against UCLA in 2007.


Cougfan Top Stories