Washington vs UCLA: How Bruins Can Avoid Upset Against Huskies

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 15, 2013

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 02:  Quarterback Brett Hundley #17 of the UCLA Bruins rolls out against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Rose Bowl on November 2, 2013 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The 6-3 Washington Huskies are a serious threat to the No. 13 UCLA Bruins when they make the trip to the Rose Bowl for a Pac-12 showdown Friday.

Brett Hundley and the Bruins ride a two-game win streak after consecutive losses to ranked opposition. Star running back Bishop Sankey and the Huskies have a similar thing going, with two straight wins after three losses in a row. 

Washington has lost two of three on the road this season but stands a good chance against UCLA in what is best described as a trap game. The Bruins would love nothing more than to stay in the hunt in the Pac-12 South, but the Huskies can easily play the role of spoiler.

With UCLA on upset alert (the Bruins are favored by just a field goal, per Vegas Insider), here are three key points the Bruins must focus on to extend their winning streak.


Shut Down Bishop Sankey

Oct 12, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies running back Bishop Sankey (25) carries the ball against the Oregon Ducks during the 1st half at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Sankey is the heart and soul of the Washington attack. Senior quarterback Keith Price has done a magnificent job taking care of the football with his 18 scores to four interceptions, but his job is made much easier by Sankey. 

Sankey ranks third in the nation at 145.0 yards per game and has over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year.

Nov 9, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Keith Price (17) passes the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes during the 1st half at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

If UCLA can shut down Sankey, it will force Price to the air in an uncomfortable role as the catalyst of the offense. Price was forced into that situation in a 53-24 loss to Arizona State when Sankey managed just 22 yards on 13 carries. Price responded with a 16-of-39 and two-score effort.

Washington scores over 37 points per game. That total will be difficult to obtain against a UCLA defense that hardly allows 22—especially if the Bruins eliminate Sankey's production.


Protect Brett Hundley Via a Ground Game

Brett Hundley has played much better in recent weeks as UCLA's rushing attack has proved consistent. UCLA's two losses this year? Hundley was mediocre at best:

Brett Hundley in UCLA's Two Losses
@ Stanford24 39 192 61.512
@ Oregon13 19 64 68.412

Want a pattern? UCLA managed just 74 rushing yards in the loss to Stanford and 219 in the loss to Oregon—72 of which came from the quarterback himself.

Hundley is a very impressive passer when he has time in the pocket and the defense actually respects the ground game. The fact that Hundley is the team's leading rusher with his 487 yards and seven scores speaks volumes about how much defenses care about runners not named Hundley.

Despite the issues, Hundley still completes over 68 percent of his passes on the year and has 18 touchdowns to eight interceptions. However, a Washington defense that allows just 21.8 points per game will feast on a one-dimensional attack.

UCLA can go a long way to help Hundley via the next point.


Get Creative with Myles Jack 

Nov 9, 2013; Tucson, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Myles Jack (30) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA did this in a big way last week as 18-year-old linebacker Myles Jack won himself an offensive award in a win over Arizona:

Jack had himself quite a day, with eight tackles, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery—as well as six carries for 120 yards and a touchdown.

The only issue with the two-way star's outburst against Arizona is that the Huskies now know to prepare for Jack at running back. If the UCLA coaching staff could get the most out of its linebacker-running back hybrid last week, it can do so again on a short turnaround.

Jack is a star in the making on at least one side of the football (his offensive skills need further film review, right?), but he will play a major factor in whether Hundley will have large passing lanes to exploit on Friday.