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ASU Football Opponent Primer: UCLA Bruins

The Sun Devils are 2-1 vs. the Bruins over the last three seasons

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State 2018 Schedule

UTSA (Sept. 1) - Read

Michigan State (Sept. 8) - Read

At San Diego State (Sept. 15) - Read

At Washington (Sept. 22) - Read

Oregon State (Sept. 29) - Read

At Colorado (Oct. 6) - Read

Stanford (Oct. 18) - Read

At USC (Oct. 27) - Read

Utah (Nov. 3) - Read

UCLA (Nov. 10)

At Oregon (Nov. 17)

At Arizona (Nov. 24)

UCLA’s 2017 Season

The Bruins’ season started in thrilling fashion with a shootout victory over Texas A&M, solidifying Josh Rosen as a top-10 pick. Until his injury against Washington in week nine, the offense was trying to keep up with the lackluster defense that gave up 35 or more points in seven games throughout the season. A combination of the two led to UCLA finishing the season at a lackluster 6-7 record, and the firing of Jim Mora after a Cactus Bowl defeat.

Key Returners/Additions

UCLA’s additions are two people that will more than likely make bigger impacts than any returner. First is the man who took over as head coach, Chip Kelly. After a four-year stint in the NFL and a brief hiatus, Kelly is back in the Pac-12, looking to use his offensive mind to propel UCLA into conference championship contention.

The second important addition is likely Rosen successor and Michigan graduate transfer, Wilton Speight. The quarterback spent his first three years playing for Big Blue before getting injured and subsequently deciding to sit out to have eligibility this year. As a starter he finished 11-3, throwing for 3,192 yards with 22 TDs and 10 INTs.

On defense, UCLA returns their top two defensive backs in Darnay Holmes and Nathan Meadors. Holmes, a sophomore, lead the Bruins with three interceptions including one for a touchdown. Meadors, who is going into his senior season, led the team with nine passes defended last year.

Key Departures

On April 26th 2018, the Arizona Cardinals traded up to the 10th pick in the NFL Draft to select their future franchise quarterback, Josh Rosen. With that, came a handsome check and a sayonara to UCLA football for life. Rosen finished his career with the Bruins with a 17-13 record and 9,340 yards passing with 59 TDs and 26 INTs over three seasons.

On the other side of the football, leading tackler (115) and inside linebacker Kenny Young was drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round of the draft this year. UCLA also lost sack leader (7.5) Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, who was picked up by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent.

Why ASU will come out on top

This game is in the back half of the season which means one of two things. Either UCLA is playing well, or they’re not. Everyone expects Kelly to slide into that head coaching role nicely, but ever since his stint with San Francisco his coaching tactics has raised questions. Long story short, by November 10th, UCLA could be a dumpster fire.

ASU also has a new coaching staff which is projected to have this team finish in 11th place overall in the Pac-12. Herm Edwards and Co. can prove everyone wrong and have this ASU team in contention for the conference championship with some momentum from a few midseason upsets.

Why ASU will fall short

The preseason projections will be right and the Sun Devils are a mess. Kelly and his elaborate running schemes will dance all over the defense leaving the game decided at halftime. Last year, UCLA had a poor man’s DeMario Richard and Kalen Ballage combination, but with a new system, their backfield can be upgraded immediately.