UCLA vs. Stanford: Five things to watch
No. 9 UCLA to face No. 13 Stanford
Head coach Jim Mora Jr. will lead the No. 9 UCLA Bruins (5-0) into Stanford, California this Saturday to face off against David Shaw and the No. 13 Stanford Cardinal (5-1).
Cardinal offense evolution
In previous years, the Stanford Cardinal have had a multitude of tight ends and power running backs to produce offensively. While Stanford still rotates power backs (Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson) the offense has shifted outside to receivers Devon Cajuste and speedster Ty Montgomery. Cajuste was recruited by other schools as a tight end because of his size, 6”4 232 pounds, but came to Stanford for the opportunity to play receiver, and has thrived this year in that role with 14 receptions for 268 yards and four touchdowns. Ty Montgomery has had a breakout junior year himself as both a receiver -- 31 receptions for 514 yards and five touchdowns -- and as the lead return man -- 364 return yards with two touchdowns in the past two games.
Bruins' offense firing on all cylinders
If Bruins running back Jordon James cannot play (doubtful), Paul Perkins will step in as starter. With Perkins starting last week, the Bruins shifted their offense to an air-based attack with quarterback Brett Hundley throwing for 410 yards. This year UCLA has offered a balanced attack, ranking fifth in total yards per game with 547 per game, No. 21 in rushing and No. 17 in passing per game. Through the air the No. 9 ranked Bruins depend on senior Shaquelle Evans (20 rec. 289 yards, 4 TD) and sophomore receiver Devin Fuller (22 rec. 265 yards, 2 TD).
Third-down UCLA defense
The defense of UCLA has been effective in every facet through five games holding opponents, on average, to less than 350 total yards and 18.2 points per game. While the defense as a whole has been effective, the third down defense has been flawless. Their defense ranks second in the nation in third-down conversion percentage at 24 percent on 75 attempts. Stanford will need to control the UCLA pass rush, specifically Anthony Barr -- last 19 games, 17.5 sacks, 31.5 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles -- if they want to succeed on third downs through the air.
QB battle: Kevin Hogan vs. Brett Hundley
After a successful start to the 2013 season, starting quarterback Kevin Hogan has struggled lately. In the past two games, a 31-28 victory to Washington and 27-21 loss at Utah, he has completed 57 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and an interception, compared with his 63 percent completion percentage and 10:3 touchdown to interception ratio. Conversely, Bruins’ quarterback Brett Hundley has continued his sensual play ranking in the top 20 in the nation in completion percentage (68 percent) and passing efficiency (165 rating), all while throwing 12 touchdowns to four interceptions and rushing for 52 yards per game in five games.
Bevy of NFL talent
Every year Stanford is churning out NFL talent, this year is no different. Cardinal pass rushers Trent Murphy -- eight TFL, 5.0 sacks, one interception -- and Shayne Skov -- 52 total tackles, 2.5 sacks -- lead the list of defensive prospects, while offensive lineman David Yankey is the main talent on offense. Although most of the NFL talent on UCLA is under-classmen, the one upperclassman to look out for this weekend is potential top-10 pick Anthony Barr. Last year, after switching from running back to linebacker, Barr ranked in the NCAA top ten in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles.
-- Stanford hasn't lost back-to-back games since Oct. 10-17, 2009 - Andrew Luck's freshman season -- Highest ranking for UCLA since 2005, when ranked No. 8 -- UCLA leads the all-time series, 45-36-3 -- The schools last met in the Pac-12 Championship Game (11/30/12), a 27-24 Cardinal win in Palo Alto -- David Shaw is 3-0 all-time against UCLA