FROM PASADENA — We’re about an hour from kickoff here at the Rose Bowl, where Washington hopes to take the next step against 13th-ranked UCLA.
As usual, we have our three keys to a possible Huskies victory, along with our game box that ran in today’s newspaper.
1. Make Hundley scramble — Brett Hundley running out of the pocket probably isn’t the happiest possible image for Huskies fans (memories of Marcus Mariota probably come to mind). But if the Huskies make him run more than the Bruins would like, that should be a positive for UW. The Bruins list three freshmen starters on their offensive line, so this could be a night when the Huskies’ defensive front finally gets some consistent pressure on the quarterback. Of course, after they get there, they have to actually bring Hundley down, which is never an easy task against the 6-foot-3, 222-pound quarterback. Pressure will be key tonight, regardless.
2. TDs, not FGs — Steve Sarkisian has said a few times this season that he’s been relatively pleased with the way the Huskies have executed in the red zone, particularly the rate at which they score touchdowns. That’s going to have to continue tonight. This game has the feel of UW’s earlier road matchup at Stanford, in which the Huskies blew a couple of chances on Stanford’s side of the field. The margin for error will again be thin, so any and all scoring opportunities must result in points — seven, preferably, instead of three — for UW to really feel good about its chances in this one.
3. Spread the field — We could write here every week that Bishop Sankey getting 25-30 carries will be key to the Huskies’ chances of winning. It’s no less true today. But the Huskies also need to distribute the ball to their receivers on the outside, take shots deep and find Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the seams. UCLA’s defense is fast and strong — especially the front seven and linebacker Anthony Barr — so using the whole field, as Sarkisian emphasizes, should be the best way to move the ball.
And our game box …
WASHINGTON (6-3, 3-3 in Pac-12) at No. 13 UCLA (7-2, 4-2)
6 p.m., Rose Bowl
TV: ESPN2. Radio: 950-AM.
The series: UCLA leads the series, 38-30-2. Washington won the last meting, 24-7, at Husky Stadium in 2010.
What to watch: Washington’s 53-24 loss to Arizona State on Oct. 19 has become somewhat of a rallying point for the Huskies. As in: they don’t ever want to let it happen again. This will be UW’s first road foray since that disastrous afternoon in the desert, so it will be interesting to see if the Huskies come out with more energy and speed from the start. A primetime start under the lights and a national audience on ESPN2 should aid in that effort. But UCLA is unbeaten at home this season … Bishop Sankey is now 390 yards shy of UW’s single-season rushing record, and ranks third in the country with 145 yards rushing per game. A strong performance against the Bruins, who rank 80th nationally in rushing defense, could put Sankey one game away from breaking the record.
The pick: UCLA, 31-27.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
17 Keith Price QB 6-1 202 R-Sr.
The Compton, Calif., native will be playing in front of friends and family. This game could be essential in establishing his legacy as a UQ quarterback.
20 Kevin King S 6-2 178 Fr.
The freshman made his first career start last week against Colorado, and could see significant action again this week if Will Shamburger still can’t play.
22 Josh Shirley DE 6-3 232 R-Jr.
Against young UCLA offensive line, pass-rushing specialist could benefit by putting pressure on Bruins’ QB.
88 Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE 6-6 276 Jr.
Caught three passes for 62 yards and a touchdown against Colorado last week. With Kasen Williams out, could see more targets.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
17 Brett Hundley QB 6-3 222 R-So.
Strong, accurate arm, but also leads the Bruins in rushing. The kind of QB who requires constant attention.
31 Myles Jack LB/RB 6-1 225 Fr.
Solid at LB all season, but 6-carry, 120-yard debut as RB last week turned heads around the country.
11 Anthony Barr LB 6-4 248 Sr.
One of nation’s best defenders blends speed and strength to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
56 Xavier Su’a-Falio LT 6-3 305 Jr.
Experienced offensive lineman who anchors a young, inexperienced group up front.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple