Coming off of another huge win over the No. 2-ranked Oregon Ducks last week, the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal seek a victory over a hot UCLA team that has already clinched the Pac-12 South division.
Stanford is looking as good as they have all year, holding Oregon’s potent offense to only 14 points a week ago. That big road win will likely give the Cardinal a confidence boost when they enter the Rose Bowl to take on the Bruins.
Stanford’s front seven will have to deal with one of the best running backs in the nation in Jonathan Franklin. However, after rendering Heisman Trophy contender Kenjon Barner almost entirely ineffective last week, the Cardinal should continue their success against UCLA.
The Cardinal secondary, usually an area of weakness on the defense, has also impressed of late. If Stanford wants to continue to thrive on the defensive side of the ball, their backfield will need to take away the passing game and put pressure on stud freshman quarterback Brett Hundley.
On the other side of the ball, Stanford just needs to continue to play their game. Stepfan Taylor is looking as good as he ever has over the last few weeks, and he will look to pound the ball up the middle against a UCLA run defense allowing nearly 150 yards on the ground this season.
Kevin Hogan has been an absolute stud for the Cardinal under center since he took over for Josh Nunes three weeks ago. In only his second career start, the sophomore entered Autzen Stadium, one of the most hostile environments in the nation, and silenced the No. 2 Ducks in their own backyard.
Hogan seems to have a knack to step up and find a way to win. He will look, as usual, to exploit his excellent tight end matchups through the air against a porous UCLA pass defense.
The implications of this matchup are huge. Should the Cardinal win, they will clinch the Pac-12 North and face UCLA in a rematch at home for the Pac-12 championship next week. However, should Stanford lose while Oregon beats Oregon State, it will be Oregon that hosts the Bruins for the Pac-12 championship game.
The game kicks off at 3:30 tomorrow, so be sure to tune in, as this game will go a long way in dictating the winner of the conference.