UCLA BRUINS (9-2)
at STANFORD CARDINAL (9-2)
Pac-12 Championship Game - Stanford, CA
Kickoff: Friday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Stanford -8, Total: 44
No. 8 Stanford and No. 17 UCLA meet for the second time in seven days when the Pac-12 foes determine a conference champion on Friday night.
Stanford has won four straight (SU and ATS) in this series, including last week’s 35-17 road win adding to a 115-36 scoring advantage over the past three matchups. The Bruins entered last Saturday with 207 rushing YPG, but the Cardinal outrushed them 221 to 73 behind Stepfan Taylor’s 142 yards and 2 TD. Stanford leads the nation in run defense (71 YPG), sacks (53) and TFL (111), big reasons why it has won six straight games SU and six of seven ATS. However, UCLA is 4-1 SU on the road, scoring 39.4 PPG.
Can Stanford beat UCLA handily for the second time in a week? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
UCLA should have great confidence in freshman QB Brett Hundley who has thrown for 3,234 yards (8.1 YPA), 26 TD and just 10 INT this year. He has totaled at least 240 yards in every game this season, including 261 through the air last week. Stanford has now allowed 257 passing YPG this season (92nd in FBS). But the Bruins have to get top RB Jonathan Franklin (1,506 rush yds, 11 TD) more holes to run though. He entered last week with 227 yards on 37 carries (6.1 YPC) over three career games in this series, but managed just 65 yards on 21 carries (3.1 YPC) and a touchdown. The Bruins offense has not done a great job of ball protection in conference road games this year, committing 12 turnovers in four such games. The Bruins defense has been suspect against Pac-12 foes, especially in defending the pass. They have allowed an average of 284 passing YPG, including 319 YPG over the past three contests. But UCLA has helped itself by taking the football away, forcing multiple turnovers in nine of 12 games this season (29 total).
Stanford remains unbeaten with freshman QB Kevin Hogan starting under center in place of Josh Nunes. Hogan has completed 80-of-110 passes (73%) for 809 yards, 7 TD and 3 INT during his four-game win streak. He has really leaned on senior TE Zach Ertz in these four games, as Ertz has 31 catches for 293 yards and 3 TD. But as good as Hogan has been, the Cardinal ground game has been even better, averaging a hefty 194 rushing YPG during the six-game win streak. Taylor has 707 of these yards on the ground (118 YPG) and six touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Stanford has been all over opposing quarterbacks, leading the nation with 4.4 sacks per game and 9.3 Tackles For Loss per game. UCLA got an up-close look at this front four last week, taking seven sacks from six different Cardinal defensive players. They would like to force more turnovers though, with just one takeaway in each of their past three home games.