The two teams fighting for the Pac-12 championship are unlikely to surprise their opponent as No. 16 UCLA and No. 8 Stanford last met this past Saturday.
That clash in Pasadena ended with a convincing victory for the Cardinal, and now the teams are traveling up the 101 towards The Farm. A trip to the Rose Bowl is on the line in this game, and the winner will be headed right back down to Southern California.
Both teams will be desperately trying to get into the stroried BCS bowl game, and this will be a thrilling contest.
Here is everything you need to know about the game.
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif.
When: Friday, November 30, 8 p.m. ET
Listen: AM 570 (UCLA), AM 1050 (Stanford)
Betting Line: Stanford -8.5 (according to Sports Book)
UCLA Injuries (via USA Today)
Ellis McCarthy—freshman defensive lineman is questionable with a knee injury.
Devin Lucien—freshman wide receiver is questionable with a broken collarbone.
Damien Thigpen—junior wide receiver is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Ishmael Adams—freshman cornerback is out for the season following shoulder surgery.
Greg Capella— junior center is out indefinitely with a concussion.
Sam Tai—freshman defensive end is out for the season with a knee injury.
Dietrich Riley—junior safety is out for the season following neck surgery.
Stanford Injuries (via USA Today)
Terrence Stephens—senior defensive tackle is questionable with an undisclosed personal issue.
Daniel Zychlinski—senior punter is doubtful with a shoulder injury.
Geoff Meinken—junior fullback is out indefinitely with a knee injury.
Cole Underwood—sophomore tackle is out for the season with a knee injury.
BCS/Top-25 Poll Implications
This game will affect each team’s rankings, but neither is likely to care. The winner will move up slightly in the BCS standings, and the loser will face a marginal drop.
What is important in this game is that the winner will represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl, and this, not rankings, is what the teams are playing for.
What They’re Saying
Associated Press writer Greg Beacham notes (via ESPN) that David Shaw and Jim Mora’s background will impact how they deal with the unique nature of this game.
Shaw and Mora will rely on their NFL coaching experience to guide them this week. While pro teams often play divisional opponents twice in three games, consecutive matchups are almost unheard of at any level.
ESPN Los Angeles’ Peter Yoon paraphrased Mora’s thoughts on striking the balance between surprising his opponent and sticking with what has worked throughout the season.
Mora said he expects some changes in the schemes from both teams as they prepare for the rematch but that neither team will want to get too drastic with changes. After all, both squads earned a spot in the championship game doing things a certain way, so it’s unlikely either will want to stray too far from what has brought success.
UCLA Player to Watch: Johnathan Franklin, Running Back
In the most important game of the season, each team will need its best players to step up. For the Bruins, they will not survive without an exceptional performance from Franklin.
The senior has rushed for 1,506 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, and he will need to find holes in the extremely tough Stanford front seven. His success will be a major factor in this contest.
Stanford Player to Watch: Kevin Hogan, Quarterback
The freshman signal-caller has been incredibly impressive since taking over the starting job, but he will face a difficult challenge against the Bruins’ aggressive pass rush.
His mobility will help him avoid pressure, but he must stay composed and avoid mistakes. Hogan will need to show maturity despite his lack of experience in order for Stanford to win.
Key Matchup: Tight Ends in the Red Zone
Both schools have incredibly talented tight ends and tough defenses. When either offense gets into the red zone, it will need to capitalize on its opportunities.
The Bruins’ Joseph Fauria and The Cardinal’s Zach Ertz are both big and athletic with excellent hands. The tight end that has the more productive day will likely be on the winning team.
Biggest Storyline: Standout Coaches
Both Mora and David Shaw have done incredible jobs with their programs this season, and both appear to have their schools set up for long-term success.
This will not be the last team these two men face off with a conference championship on the line, and both teams will be among the best in the Pac-12 on a yearly basis.
Who will win the Pac-12?
Prediction: Stanford 13, UCLA 10
The Cardinal defense proves to be too tough for the Bruins and Stanford squeaks by with a victory.