Sun Devils Clash with Bruins at the Rose Bowl

By Michael Baron // Football Beat Writer for Blaze Sports

Arizona State wide receiver N’Keal Harry tries to out run the defender last Friday against Colorado // (Photo: John Mendoza / Blaze Sports)

PASADENA, CA  –  Arizona State (5-4, 4-2 in Pac-12 play) is in the hunt for bowl eligibility when they meet the UCLA Bruins (4-5, 2-4 in Pac-12 play) at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night. For the Bruins, they are in search of their first win against ASU since 2014.

UCLA’s offense is led by junior quarterback Josh Rosen. Rosen is 13th best in FBS D-I in passing yards with 2,713. Completing 63.1% of passes, he has thrown for 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

UCLA’s passing offense ranks 10th in the country, second highest in the Pac-12 Conference.

Rosen’s opponent features experience with the redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins. In 2017, Wilkins has thrown for 2,298 yards, 11 touchdowns and three picks. He is also completing 64.3% of his passes so far this season.

While passing has been a strength for UCLA, the Bruins are 105th in the country rushing the football. Through nine games, UCLA has just 1,103 yards on the ground.

For ASU, the rushing stats are a bit better. Led by the seniors Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage, the Sun Devils ranked 81st in FBS running the football. However, last week against Colorado, the Devils put up their best ground performance since 2014, netting 381 rushing yards. Richard led the way with 189 yards and averaged 7.6 yards per carry.

Defensive Struggles

Both of these teams have struggled defensively during the 2017 season. Outside of the Washington and Utah games, ASU defense has had its share of difficulties. The Sun Devils are 82nd against the run and 110th nationally in average passing yards allowed, the latter giving up 263.7 yards through the air to opposing quarterbacks.

(Photo: John Mendoza / Blaze Sports)

While UCLA is 22nd in the nation in average passing yards allowed, the rushing defense has been almost anything but pretty. The Bruins rank second-to-last in FBS D-I against the run, surrendering an average of 303.2 yards per game. UCLA is giving up about six yards per carry.

Friendly Confines

The year 2017 has proven friendly to the Bruins at the Rose Bowl as UCLA has not lost at home all season. The previous home victory saw the Bruins pull away in the second half from the Oregon Ducks for a 31-14 win. The last home defeat came at the hands of crosstown rival USC almost one year ago.

Previous Meeting in Pasadena

The last time ASU met UCLA in California, the Bruins were ranked No. 7 in the nation. However, then-ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici and co. had other plans in mind. The Sun Devils won, 38-23, as the Bruins took their first loss of the season.

The Big Difference

The run game.

ASU put up their best rushing performance since 2014 last week in Tempe, and given UCLA’s problems stopping the run, look for the Sun Devils to take advantage here. The Bruins current two-game losing streak has seen the defense concede 333 and 272 rushing yards to Washington and Utah, respectively.

You can listen to ASU-UCLA live from the Rose Bowl right here on blazeradioonline.com, beginning with pregame at 7:00 p.m. MST with Chris Cadeau, Henry Steiner and Joran Palacio. Kickoff from Pasadena is set for 7:30 p.m. MST and Assistant Director’s Braiden Bell and Eliav Gabay will bring you every moment of the game.  

Michael Baron is a football reporter for Blaze Sports. You can reach him at michael.baron@asu.edu or follow Michael on Twitter @Michael_Baron96 

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