The Arizona Wildcats will look to snap their historic nine-game losing streak on Saturday in what might be their most winnable game of the 2020 season.
The Wildcats (0-2) are set to visit the UCLA Bruins (1-2) in the Rose Bowl at 6 p.m. MST on FOX. Here’s how our staff thinks this game will shake out. Be sure to leave your predictions in the comment section below.
Brian J. Pedersen — UCLA wins 33-27
So far in this season we’ve seen Arizona overachieve yet come up just short and fall into a familiar early hole only to make the final margin look slightly less bad. What’s on the docket for the next loss?
UCLA has looked much better than I expected, which means the win I had penciled in for Arizona in this game has been erased. The Bruins are by no means a good team, but they’re better than a year ago, and we can’t really say the same for the Wildcats outside of a few players and plays.
I expect the UA to be in this game until the fourth quarter, when a critical mistake or two will cause it to fall behind by two scores. A late TD will close the gap but it will still be the 10th consecutive defeat and drop the Wildcats to 3-21 on natural grass since Arizona Stadium went to artificial turf in 2013.
Adam Green — Arizona wins 31-27
Against USC, Arizona looked like a team that was improved from last season, ready to compete and possibly even set to surprise. Against Washington they looked like the team that lost the last seven games of 2019.
Who are they, really?
The belief here is they are closer to average than terrible, which makes this matchup with UCLA winnable. The Bruins have looked better over their first two games, yes, and even came close to pulling the upset last week against Oregon. But they are not a supremely talented bunch, and certainly not as talented as the teams Arizona faced over the last two weeks.
Let’s say Arizona takes advantage of that with an offense primed for a breakout and a defense that, despite its issues, continues to fight and may get a boost from some changes to the lineup.
Ronnie Stoffle — UCLA wins 45-31
I understand the quarterback situation for UCLA is unclear for this contest. I’m not so sure it actually matters, though. I believe Arizona’s secondary will be able to contain the likes of Kyle Philips and Chase Cota.
However, I have serious doubts about the defense as a whole defending tight end Greg Dulcich especially after the success Washington’s Cade Otton had just last week. The other piece to the equation for Arizona’s defense will be stopping the run. Simply put I don’t believe it will be able to contain Demetric Felton.
All of this is not necessarily to be an indictment the Wildcats’ defense. Rather this should be considered a compliment to UCLA’s offense. I do believe Grant Gunnell and the offense will put up points outside of the fourth quarter. This very well could be a close game for most of it but my gut says UCLA pulls away late.
Christian Mortensen — UCLA wins 35-24
It’s hard for me to ever be confident when Arizona travels to play at UCLA, as the Wildcats are just 3-8 in Pasadena over the last 25 years, and I’m even less confident about the UA beating the Bruins on the road after last week’s embarrassment at Washington.
Arizona’s defense made a comedy of basic errors against the Huskies, and unless that unit can get it together and force some takeaways against a turnover-happy UCLA offense, I just don’t see Kevin Sumlin and company ending the program’s worst ever losing streak.
Regardless if Dorian Thompson-Robinson or redshirt freshman Chase Griffin lines up at QB for the Bruins.
Ryan Kelapire — UCLA wins 34-28
If this game was in Arizona Stadium, I would pick the Wildcats to win. But they have been so pitiful on the road under Kevin Sumlin that I just can’t take them in this one.
Seriously, though. Arizona has to avoid falling into one of those patented 14-0 holes that it always seems to dig itself in on the road. (Or, in last week’s case, 37-0. Sigh.)
That said, Arizona should be able to hang around in this one.
UCLA’s strength is its running game and Arizona has actually been pretty stout against the run. We don’t know which Bruins quarterback will start, but our friend Cam Mellor from Bruins Nation says UA fans should want Dorian Thompson-Robinson to play. Chase Griffin is a more dynamic passer, one that can shred this undermanned and inexperienced secondary.
I’m also concerned about how well Arizona will protect Grant Gunnell. Their pass protection has been shaky this season and the Bruins are No. 1 in the Pac-12 in sacks.