Knocking off two Top 25 teams, Arizona Football (5-3, 3-2) returns to action with another tough showdown against No. 20 UCLA (6-2, 3-2) on Homecoming.
Coming off back-to-back wins over then Top 25 ranked teams, Arizona Football resumes Pac-12 play by returning to action against a very skilled and talented No. 20 UCLA Bruins team.
Returning to the gridiron in Tucson for Homecoming, the Wildcats will have yet another marquee showdown this weekend, and once again Arizona should have yet another difficult challenge on their hands.
Coming in, the Bruins should be riding high having won two straight which include dominant wins over Stanford (42-7), and a convincing, 28-16 win over Colorado. UCLA’s only losses this year were a 36-24 beat down by the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis as well as a narrow, 14-7 loss to Utah in Salt Lake City.
And with Arizona entering this one as single-digit underdogs this week, the belief is that the Wildcats will have an opportunity to earn the upset.
Plus, if the Wildcats win, they will become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2017, and will also have the opportunity to be ranked next week. However, this one won’t be easy, and it is still going to take one hell of an effort for Arizona to come away with the win in this one!
Getting to Know the details about Arizona Football’s opponent, the UCLA Bruins.
Team: UCLA Bruins
Conference: Pac-12 Conference
Current Record: 6–2 (3–2)
Head Coach: Chip Kelly enters his 6th season as head coach at UCLA where he is currently 6–2 (3–2) on the year, and has the Bruins playing well once again.
After taking over for Jim Mora in 2018, Kelly has slowly built the Bruins into a consistent winner and overall he sports a 33–31 (25–23) record at UCLA.
Before UCLA, Kelly coached in the NFL from 2013–16 compiling a 28–35 record with the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers.
However, Kelly deserves a ton of credit for his remarkable run with the Oregon Ducks from 2009–12 where he compiled a 46–7 (33–3) record with four bowl appearances including a National Title runner-up finish in 2010. Overall, he is 79–38 as a college football head coach.
2022 Record: Finishing the 2022 season with a respectable, 9–4 (6–3) record, the Bruins ended their year with a win over Cal to end the regular season before falling to Pitt in the Sun Bowl. The Bruins lost by a 37-35 final.
Key Returners / Starters:
Running a bit of Spread/Run-Heavy offense, the Bruins like to run the football downhill, and overall, this is a skilled and talented group that can score points and move the football in a hurry. Look no further than their 30.9 points per game and 467.3 yards of total offense averages.
Using a couple of different quarterbacks this season, look for UCLA to once again turn to Ethan Garbers under center who got the start for the Bruins last week in their win over Colorado
Appearing in six games so far, Garbers has thrown for 643 yards and five touchdowns to just three interceptions on 51 of 73 pass attempts (69.9 percent). And even though he is not a prolific runner, he does still possess the ability to use his legs to move the ball.
Spreading the field, the Bruins like to get the ball in the hands of its offensive weapons which include running backs Carson Steele and TJ Harden along with talented pass catchers Logan Loya, J. Michael Sturdivant, and Kyle Ford most notably.
Behind Garbers is a talented backfield that will test the Wildcats. Together, the Bruins use several different backs; however, it is Steele and Harden who get most of the work, rushing for 674 and 466 yards respectively with a combined 11 rushing touchdowns. They are going to challenge Arizona’s run defense.
So far in 2023, this defense is stout. Like last year, this group is predicated on using its skill and talent, and overall, the Bruins play with a ton of toughness and physicality. UCLA likes to put seven or eight guys in the box and bring pressure, and so far they have proven to have a very talented group.
Holding opponents to just an average of 277.5 yards per game, the Bruins are also holding opponents to just 15.0 points per game.
Largely led by several of its playmakers, the Bruins get significant contributions from linebackers Darius Muasau, Kain Medrano, Laiatu Latu, and Gabriel Murphy among several others.
Up front, UCLA has tremendous size and talent, and this is an aggressive group that is holding opponents to 63.1 yards rushing per game and has an impressive 31.0 sacks through eight games.
Arizona’s offensive line is going to have a significant challenge in creating holes for its running backs as well as keeping its quarterbacks upright.
Beyond that, UCLA’s secondary is skilled as well. Overall, opponents are averaging just 214.4 yards passing and are averaging 1.1 touchdowns per game.
Largely led by defensive backs John Humphrey, Jaylin Davies, and Kamari Ramsey, the Bruins should challenge Arizona’s receivers a bit as well as provide a tough test for whomever is at quarterback.
Whether it is Jayden de Laura or Noah Fifita under center, Arizona’s offense will have to make smart choices with the football this week, especially if they hope to keep pace with the Bruins’ offense and keep their aggressive defense in check.
Game information and details for Arizona Football:
When: Saturday, November 4th, 2023
Time: 7:30 PM MST
Where: Arizona Stadium – Tucson, AZ (50,782)
Overall Series Record: 18-27-2 UCLA. Having met several times in their collective history, this is a series that UCLA has controlled, especially recently, as the Bruins have won eight of the last 11 meetings. However, Arizona did end UCLA’s two-game winning streak against the Wildcats last season!
Last Meeting vs. Arizona: Last year in Pasadena, the Wildcats battled and came away with the upset win over then No. 9 ranked UCLA, stunning the Bruins 34-28 at home!
My Prediction: Arizona 27 UCLA 24 – Hopefully, my Wildcats don’t let me down simply because I am picking them, but the Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in college football right now. Both offensively and defensively, Arizona is playing well, and after knocking off back-to-back Top 25 opponents, the confidence is riding high in Tucson.
It is Homecoming for Arizona, and with a bowl berth on the line, the momentum is on Arizona’s side. Look for this one to be a battle that may not be settled until the waning moments of the game; however, when the dust settles, I see the Cats just escaping.