STANFORD CARDINAL (9-2)
at UCLA BRUINS (9-2)
Kickoff: Saturday, 6:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Stanford -2, Total: 52.5
No. 11 Stanford tries to clinch the Pac-12 North Division when it faces the team that has already clinched the Pac-12 South title, No. 15 UCLA, on Saturday.
Stanford has won three straight (SU and ATS) in this series, including a 35-0 shutout at UCLA in 2010. Last year was also a rout, as Stepfan Taylorís 112 rushing yards and 2 TD contributed to a 45-19 win. Both of these schools enter Saturday with five-game winning streaks. Stanford is prevailing with defense (11.4 PPG allowed during streak), while UCLA is scoring 42.8 PPG in the five wins. Bruins RB Johnathan Franklin is fifth in the nation with 131 rushing YPG, but the Cardinal rank second in FBS in run defense (71 YPG), allowing a mere 2.4 yards per carry.
Can Stanford clinch the division title with a tough road win? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Stanford remains unbeaten with freshman QB Kevin Hogan starting under center in place of Josh Nunes. Hogan has completed 65-of-88 passes for 649 yards (7.4 YPA), 6 TD and 3 INT during his three-game win streak. He has really leaned on senior TE Zach Ertz in these three games, as Ertz has 26 catches for 222 yards and 3 TD, scoring once in each game. But as good as Hogan has been, the Cardinal ground game has been even better, averaging a hefty 188 rushing YPG during the five-game win streak. Taylor has 565 of these yards and four touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Stanford has put extreme pressure on the opposing quarterback, ranking second in the nation with 4.0 sacks per game and an FBS-leading 9.2 Tackles For Loss per game. The Cardinal have done a great job making plays on the road, forcing 10 turnovers in the past four away games.
UCLA also has a great freshman quarterback in Brett Hundley who has thrown for 2,973 yards (8.3 YPA), 25 TD and just 9 INT this year. He has totaled at least 240 yards during each of the Bruins five straight wins, tallying 12 TD and just two picks. Franklin has already faced Stanford three times in his career, combining for 227 yards on 37 carries (6.1 YPC) and one touchdown. He is also coming off his best Pac-12 performance since 2010, rushing for 171 yards and two scores against USC. The Bruins offense has done a great job of ball protection in conference home games this year, committing just two turnovers in four such games. The Bruins defense has been suspect during the five-game win streak, especially in defending the pass. They have allowed an average of 299 passing YPG, including 798 yards over the past two contests. But UCLA has helped itself by taking the football away, forcing three turnovers in each of its past three games.