The Arizona Wildcats wrap up their road slate on Saturday when they visit the UCLA Bruins, who are ninth in the Associated Press Top 25 and 12th in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.
UCLA (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) has won eight of the last 10 meetings against Arizona (3-6, 1-5) including five straight at the Rose Bowl.
Who will win this matchup? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Kim Doss — UCLA wins 45-24
The Bruins can run the ball better than almost anyone in the Pac-12. That’s a bad sign for Arizona. UCLA is second to Oregon in yards per game on the ground with 222.4. The two teams are tied at the top of the league with 5.8 yards per attempt.
Also leading the league is Bruins running back Zach Charbonnet, who paces the Pac-12 with 964 yards, 137.7 yards per game, and 8.2 yards per rush. He is second in the league with 10 touchdowns—nine of those in conference play—and third with 128 rushes.
Even if the Wildcats could force the Bruins into the air, that’s not a much better proposition. UCLA is third in the Pac-12 with 8.6 yards per passing attempt, although they fall to eighth in yards per completion.
UCLA's defense isn’t bad, either, especially when it comes to Arizona’s strength. The Bruins are third in the league in limiting opponents’ passing yardage. UCLA opponents have thrown for 235.4 yards per game.
All-in-all, it spells probable blowout.
Ezra Amacher — UCLA wins 40-20
Last week’s loss to Utah illustrated once again that Arizona has minimal margin for error, especially on the road. Not only did the Wildcats players not execute in key situations, neither did the coaching staff. The margin for error is perhaps even smaller this week taking on a fast-paced UCLA offense that can take out an opponent in a quarter’s span.
Arizona will have to play its best defensive game of the season, which means containing the big play ability of Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Offensively, Arizona can’t commit turnovers and has to convert on red zone opportunities. It all seems like too much to ask against a UCLA team who is still eyeing a surprise College Football Playoff berth.
The Bruins will run away with this one.
Brandon Combs — UCLA wins 42-31
Arizona is finally getting to the end of its extremely rough run by playing another Top 10 team.
UCLA’s offense is insane. Their rushing attack is ridiculous, with DTR and Zach Charbonnet, who leads the conference in rushing yards (964) and rushing yards per game (137.7). That will be the challenge for Arizona’s defense.
What makes this game interesting is Arizona has three receivers in the Top 10 in the Pac-12 in receiving yards and receiving yards per game: Cowing, Singer, and TMAC. That’ll be the challenge for UCLA’s defense.
In the end, I believe the Bruins will be able to stop Arizona’s offense more times than Arizona will be able to stop UCLA’s. Though, I do think UA’s offense will be back in top form.
Adam Green — UCLA wins 47-34
When Arizona set out upon this brutal part of the schedule, UCLA seemed like a reasonable choice for the game the Cats could steal.
The teams have played very close over recent years, and I’m convinced Arizona would have won last season had Jordan McCloud not gotten hurt. But then the Bruins kept winning — and the Wildcats kept losing — and now the game is less inviting than it once was.
Arizona has the offense to turn this into a track meet, and really that’s their only chance. Unfortunately, the Bruins will be too much.
Brian J. Pedersen — UCLA wins 49-34
UCLA just put up its most rushing yards of the Chip Kelly era without its best running back, and we know how bad Arizona’s run defense is. That combination will no doubt lead to a lot of yards and points for the Bruins, and once again put the Wildcats in a situation where they’re playing from behind most of the game.
Thankfully, there’s no cold, wind or rain in the forecast in Pasadena, so Arizona’s offense should be back to the form that has seen it produce one of the best pass attacks in the country. Still, without the ability to get stops, this is going to be another case of the UA being just good enough to lose by a couple of scores.