UCLA vs. Stanford: Positional Breakdown for Pac-12 Showdown

R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IOctober 18, 2013

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 12:    Brett Hundley #17 of the UCLA Bruins throws a pass against the California Golden Bears at the Rose Bowl on October 12, 2013 in Pasadena, California. UCLA won 37-10.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The showdown between UCLA and Stanford on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET should not only be a great game to watch but also could likely decide the No. 2 team in the Pac-12 before the Bruins head to Oregon in a potential conference championship game preview.

With both teams featuring great quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and defenses, breaking down each position was tough to decipher.

But without further ado, here is how the Cardinal and Bruins match up against one another.

 

Quarterback: Bruins

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 21:  Quarterback Brett Hundley #17 of the UCLA Bruins jumps over a  New Mexico State Aggies defender at the Rose Bowl on September 21, 2013 in Pasadena, California.  UCLA won 59-13.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Brett Hundley has been absolutely sensational in his second season with the Bruins.

The sophomore boasts a 68.1 completion percentage, 1,469 passing yards and 14 touchdowns with just four interceptions.

If he can't get it done through the passing game, he also has the speed to break away from defenders and carve up the defense with his legs. Hundley has rushed for at least 60 yards in three games this season and has three touchdowns on the ground.

Hundley has earned praise from several NFL scouts, with ESPN's Mel Kiper weighing in on the UCLA signal caller earlier this week:

He's also conjured up some Heisman talk, according to Chris Foster of the LA Times.

The Bruins are 14-5 with Hundley under center and undefeated thus far this season heading into Saturday's game with the Cardinal.

He'll be looking for revenge after nearly leading his team past Stanford last season but falling just short in the season finale, 27-24.

 

Running backs: Cardinal

STANFORD, CA - OCTOBER 5: Running back Tyler Gaffney #25 of the Stanford Cardinal stiff-arms linebacker Travis Feeney #41 of the Washington Huskies tackles during the fourth quarter of their game on October 5, 2013 at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, Califor
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Stanford features multiple running backs in its backfield, but none more explosive than Tyler Gaffney.

After being the second-leading rusher for the Cardinal in 2011, Gaffney sat out in 2012 to pursue a professional baseball career.

With Gaffney back, the Cardinal has asked him to carry the load to the tune of 108 carries through six games, and he's responded with 570 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

While Gaffney is not much of a threat in the passing game, he has caught eight passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.

This matchup might be a little closer if Jordon James dresses for the Bruins, but Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register reports he is listed as doubtful.

 

Wide receivers: Cardinal

STANFORD, CA - OCTOBER 5: Wide receiver Ty Montgomery #7 of the Stanford Cardinal catches the ball for a touchdown as defensive back Marcus Peters #21 of the Washington Huskies defends during the second quarter of their game on October 5, 2013 at Stanford
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

The aforementioned Hundley loves to spread the ball around and has nine targets with over 100 yards receiving, but the Cardinal feature a one-two punch that has scored nine total touchdowns for the team this season.

Ty Montgomery is having his best collegiate season thus far with nearly as many receiving yards as he compiled in his first two seasons. The junior has hauled in 514 total yards through the air and five total touchdowns, including a two-touchdown game against Arizona State.

Another facet of Montgomery's game is using his speed on end-arounds to get yardage. He averages 11.5 yards per carry.

Oh, and he returns kicks, too:

On the other side of Montgomery is fellow junior Devon Cajuste.

The 6'4", 232-pound receiver hasn't been as consistent as his counterpart, but he has been a great target for home run balls for quarterback Kevin Hogan, averaging 19.1 yards per reception. Two of his four touchdowns went for 40 yards or more.

 

Defense: Bruins

October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) defends against the California Golden Bears during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinal has the 24th best rushing defense. The Bruins have the 35th ranked passing defense.

See how this one was tough to decide?

Where the Bruins separate themselves from the Cardinal is in the red zone.

UCLA has allowed opponents into the red zone just 13 times, which alone is outstanding, and has held teams to a field goal or no score six times in those red-zone possessions.

The Bruins also possess one of, if not the best defensive players in the country in Anthony Barr.

While the South Carolina Gamecocks' Jadeveon Clowney is still widely considered one of the best defensive prospects for the draft, Dan Greenspan of NFL.com believes he might have surpassed Clowney.

Brian Fischer of Pac-12 Networks also sees Barr as one of the best defensive players this year:

UCLA is also 19th in the country in points allowed with just 18.2 per game. That, coupled with the fact that their rushing and passing defense both rank in the top 50 in the country, makes the Bruins one of the best defenses in the Pac-12.

 

Prediction

Taking everything into consideration, the Bruins will simply be too much for Stanford.

The Bruins are balanced both offensively and defensively and will use the Cardinal's weakness in passing defense against them in the form of Hundley using his multiple targets to get to the end zone.

Final: UCLA 37, Stanford 23