Las Vegas Bowl Preview

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl

Dec. 22, 5 p.m. PST

UCLA (6-6) vs. BYU (10-2)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Payout: $1,000,000
Spread: BYU – 6.5
 
Did we really need this rematch? UCLA beat BYU early in the season by a score of 27-17 even though BYU out gained UCLA in that game by over 200 yards and it’s clear both teams have gone in different directions since then. In UCLA’s case that direction was in the tank. Injuries ravaged the team at the skill positions and the offense suffered mightily. Head coach Karl Dorrell paid the price with his job. Interim coach and defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker will take over until UCLA can find a suitable replacement. Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow has recently removed his name from consideration, a smart move on his part. This is a team in turmoil who surprisingly beat a Dennis Dixon-less Oregon team down the stretch but still lost four of their last five.

That said, they should be healthy for this game. At quarterback they’ll need to be. BYU is strong up the middle and has not allowed a single 100-yard rusher this season. If UCLA is to win this game they’ll have to air it out consistently, something they weren’t able to do with a former WR at the helm at times this season in Osaar Rasshan.

BYU, on the other hand, finished strong with nine consecutive victories. They won the Mountain West conference for the second straight year with an 8-0 record. Four bowl teams, TCU, Utah, Air Force and New Mexico all fell to the Cougars in part thanks to the maturation process that took place at the quarterback position.

Sophomore quarterback Max Hall uses all the options at his disposal to run the offense. Six players have over 25 catches this season. The leader is tight end Dennis Pitta and running back Harvey Unga is third on the team in catches. Even though this is a pass first team, Unga has contributed 1,200 yards on the ground. Just a freshman, Unga had seven 100-yard games and 13 touchdowns rushing.

Two pass rushing defensive ends in this game could have a huge impact. BYU’s Jan Jorgensen and UCLA’s Bruce Davis. Jorgensen has 11.5 sacks while Davis finished with only 9.5 which is somewhat disappointing considering the 12.5 he tallied last season. Jorgensen is a sophomore who started his career at Kentucky. Last year as a red-shirt freshman he started all 13 games and picked up five sacks. Next year should be his coming out party for the NFL scouts. Davis impressed many with his big season last year, but with fellow pass-rusher Justin Hickman gone to graduation, he couldn’t produce with all the focus on him. Nevertheless the very fact that he is the focus of many pass blocking schemes helps the rest of the team, especially the secondary.

That UCLA secondary has thrived on opportunity this year. Trey Brown and Chris Horton have garnered national respect for their play this year despite the Bruins poor overall play.

BYU should win this game, they are a better team and are currently employing a head coach, something UCLA could learn a thing or two about. The Bruins might keep it close if they can force Hall into making bad decisions and the quarterback situation on their side of the ball is sorted out.

This isn’t a game I’m clamoring to see. I’ll watch just to see how well Max Hall runs his offense but can we please get rid of these pathetic rematches? I have a feeling my prediction might be clouded by my hatred for the game.

Prediction:

BYU 45 – UCLA 20

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One Response

  1. You are an idiot, dude

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