Week 12 Game Matchup: Arizona State Sun Devils VS. UCLA Bruins
Arizona State Sun Devils (4-6) vs. UCLA Bruins (5-5)
Saturday, November 21, 1:00 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: UCLA -5.0
Sam’s Take (46 – 18):
For most of the 2009 season, Arizona State and UCLA have looked like mirror images of one another. Each team features a very strong defense, an inconsistent offensive line, and most recently, a young quarterback with great promise. The Bruins and Sun Devils also share identical conference records (2-5) with their two Pac-10 wins coming over the lowly Washington schools.
As I look at this game, the biggest difference I see is the current state of the offenses. UCLA has struggled for most of the season offensively, but the unit has begun to make strides. QB Kevin Prince’s confidence seems to be high right now, and he finally has a difference maker to throw to on the outside in WR Nelson Rosario. If RB Derrick Coleman, Milton Knox, or Jonathan Franklin can spark the running game this week, the Bruins may have a chance to crack the stingy Sun Devil D.
Arizona State is looking to rally behind a new starting quarterback this week. Samson Szakacsy will be the third QB to start for the Devils this season, and he is also the most intriguing. Szakacsy is a true dual-threat with skills most suited for the zone-read scheme that Dennis Erickson implemented in the off-season. Against Oregon, Szakacsy demonstrated his ability to keep plays alive by scrambling, a foreign concept for the ASU offense up to that point.
Ultimately, I believe the Bruins will win a tight, hard-fought game this Saturday for two reasons. 1.) It’s senior day in Pasadena, and two of the best defensive players in the history of the program (CB Alterraun Verner, LB Reggie Carter) will be playing their final game in the Rose Bowl (and junior DT Brian Price is probably gone after this season as well). 2.) UCLA can become bowl eligible with a victory, which means the USC game is no longer a must win.
I look for the Bruins to prevail in a close and very physical game.
Prediction: UCLA 24 – Arizona State 20
Arizona State Player to Keep an Eye On: K Thomas Weber - In a close game, a player like Weber becomes invaluable. His groin injury appears to be a thing of the past, so the Devils should be in scoring range once they cross the Bruins’ 40-yard line.
UCLA Player to Keep an Eye On: FB Chane Moline - Moline is coming off of a 3 TD game against Wazzu, and the versatile fullback could have a big impact again this week.
Dave’s Take (49 – 15):
Before the season even started, I remember having this game circled as an extremely evenly matched one. My opinion hasn’t changed.
Both teams have weak offenses, both have strong defenses, both are clearly outside of the conference’s top tier, and both have wins over both Washington schools.
I’d consider this game a virtual coinflip. Yes UCLA has looked to be in better form over the last few weeks, but ASU’s four-game losing streak pretty much looks like UCLA’s five-game one did.
Before the season started, I picked UCLA to finish below ASU in conference play, and I’m sticking with that prediction. I expect a low-scoring ugly game with plenty of great defense and punting, and Arizona State to come out on top when it’s all said and done.
Prediction: Arizona State 16 – UCLA 13