UCLA vs. Stanford College Football Predictions: Week 9
With the Bruins looking to rebound from a big loss in Eugene, they will have to hold off their resurgent rival from the north this weekend.
No. 12 UCLA football (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) will play Stanford (3-4, 1-4 Pac-12) at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. The Bruins are coming off their first loss since Oct. 30, 2021, while the Cardinal have won back-to-back against Notre Dame and Arizona State. Regardless, UCLA enters the matchup as 6.5-point favorites.
All Bruins is making its picks for who will win, what the score will be and how the game will play out, courtesy of Managing Editor Sam Connon and contributing writer Benjamin Royer.
Sam Connon, Managing Editor
Prediction: UCLA 38, Stanford 20
It wasn’t all too long ago that one had to toss out objectivity and deeper analysis when predicting the end result of a UCLA-Stanford game.
Those days are over, though, and the Cardinal’s 11-game winning streak in the head-to-head series feels like a distant memory. The Bruins have turned things around under Chip Kelly, taking two out of the last three, and previewing this rivalry matchup can once again be approached with facts and logic.
Just two weeks ago, UCLA’s nine-game winning streak dating back to 2021 was overlapping with Stanford’s 11-game losing streak to FBS teams dating back to 2021. Save for a fluky four-game winning streak to close out the wonky and shortened COVID-impacted 2020 season – they won those four games by a combined 10 points – the Cardinal were 7-23 since Week 2 of 2019.
Which is all to say, don’t buy into this Stanford team just because they’ve won back-to-back games. The Cardinal had been trending down for the better part of four seasons, and wins over a spiraling Notre Dame team with a first-year head coach and an Arizona State team with an interim head coach shouldn’t erase that.
UCLA is far beyond both of those programs at the moment, and they present a really tough matchup for Stanford.
Before the two recent wins when they allowed 14 points each time, the Cardinal had given up 40-plus points to three of the four FBS teams they had played. The Bruins are averaging 39.9 points per game, and that’s after Oregon held them to a season-low 30 last week.
Stanford is allowing 187.6 rushing yards per game on 5.2 yards per carry, setting running back Zach Charbonnet up for yet another big game. UCLA was 11-0 when Charbonnet broke 100 yards on the ground prior to last week’s loss in Eugene, so history would suggest that the team wins when he succeeds on the ground.
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That’s not even including what quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson could do, which is ironic given his late-game heroics against the Cardinal in 2021. Stanford won its last two games by scoring 16 and 15 points, respectively, and there is no way they can do that again and hope to win when they’re facing down Charbonnet and Thompson-Robinson.
It can sometimes be a mistake to boil a matchup down to broad count stats and two key players, but all of that is leaning so heavily in UCLA’s favor that it’d be a waste of time to go any deeper.
Benjamin Royer, contributing writer
Prediction: UCLA 45, Stanford 27
Tanner McKee may be one of the most talented quarterbacks in the nation and a prime NFL prospect, but he is all that Stanford’s offense has to remotely threaten UCLA on Saturday night.
The Bruins will bounce back from losing in Eugene during Week 8 and thrive against a mediocre Cardinal defense. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will re-enter the Heisman Trophy conversation as well.
The Rose Bowl has been a place of safety for the blue and gold in 2022 and it is possible that UCLA will hold steady and stay undefeated at home all season long.
However, the way Oregon exposed the Bruins’ secondary will not go unnoticed by Stanford coach David Shaw and the Cardinal. Shaw will try and expose UCLA’s defensive structure and shock the crowd.
Oregon was able to triumph through true talent, and when comparing the Bruins to the Cardinal, talent will be on UCLA’s side.
Compared to a program bordering on dismay, coach Chip Kelly and the Bruins should be able to run up the score with relative ease. Either way, a win is needed for UCLA to stay in the races for the College Football Playoff, Pac-12 title game and Rose Bowl game at the end of the year.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.