UCLA vs. Stanford: Positional Breakdown for Pac-12 Showdown
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.
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:
Mel Kiper Jr's Top 3 QB prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft: 1 Teddy Bridgewater Louisville 2 Marcus Mariota Oregon 3 Brett Hundley UCLA— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 17, 2013
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 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
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.
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.
Brian Fischer of Pac-12 Networks also sees Barr as one of the best defensive players this year:
In any other year, Anthony Barr is probably the top defensive player taken.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 13, 2013
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.
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
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