Call it what you want, but Arizona State heads into Los Angeles this weekend to face No. 20 UCLA in a game that will have major impact on the Pac-12 South.
Chip Kelly finally has the Bruin program headed in the right direction after going a combined 10-21 in his first three seasons. The Sun Devils — similar to Colorado — have had struggles against UCLA in recent years. Arizona State has dropped two in a row and three of the last four to the Bruins having survived a shootout back in 2018.
Running Wild on Offense
Remember Kelly’s offense back at Oregon? UCLA has looked almost like that through the first four weeks of the season. The Bruins are averaging 38.5 points per game — all against FBS opponents; Hawaii, LSU, Fresno State and Stanford — and have run for nearly 200 yards per game. As Doug Haller of The Athletic pointed out, UCLA runs the ball even more than Arizona State.
After four weeks, here's the Pac-12 leaders in rush percentage.— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) September 27, 2021
1. Colorado runs on 65.2% of total plays
2. UCLA 65.1%
3. Arizona State 59.6%
UCLA has their own very talented backfield. Former five-star Zach Charbonnet came to Westwood from Michigan hoping to showcase that talent again. That decision has paid off. Charbonnet is currently averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Overall, the transfer has accumulated 466 all-purpose yards and scored seven touchdowns.
The defenses also have to worry about fellow back Brittain Brown and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Brown invites taking on contact and Thompson-Robinson’s ability to run means the younger Sun Devil defensive ends will need to keep contain.
Inviting a Shootout
As good the UCLA offense has been, the defense still has its own issues. After holding Hawaii to 10 points in the season opener, the Bruins defense have given up points and passing yards.
LSU and Stanford are by no means flooded with offensive playmakers. However, quarterbacks Max Johnson (LSU) and Tanner McKee (Stanford) combined to average 300 passing yards and have a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 6-to-1.
Then in UCLA’s lone loss to No. 18 Fresno State, the Bulldogs’ quarterback Jake Haener put on a show. He tossed the ball around for 455 yards and a pair of touchdowns on a 73.6 completion percent. That included this last-minute game-winner against the Bruins, who truly looked a bit lost in coverage.
If you’re a betting person, taking the over seems like a good play based on these facts.