BCS Game to Watch: UCLA vs. Nevadaby Fabian Ardaya on Aug. 28, 2013, under College Football
As a part of TC Sports’ new weekly series, we will be breaking down the top BCS and non-BCS conference games of the week. Our first non-BCS game of the week: Nevada goes into Pasadena to try to upset the #21 Bruins.
WHY NEVADA WILL WIN: Nevada (7-6, 4-4 MWC) had one of the most explosive offenses in the country last season, finishing eighth in the country in total offense and seventh in rushing offense. The explosive pistol-schemed offense will bring back dual-threat junior quarterback Cody Fajardo, who threw for 2,786 yards with 20 touchdowns against just 9 interceptions in 2012. Fajardo also broke the 1,000 yard rushing mark last season, running for 1,121 yards and 12 touchdowns. This explosive offense should be a major test for a UCLA defensive unit that, while loaded with big names, can be spread out and picked apart (finished 76th in the country in total defense in 2012) by a quarterback as efficient as Fajardo. Nevada has become a trendy pick in early preseason previews to surprise many, so why not make their first surprise in the Rose Bowl against a PAC-12 South favorite? If the Nevada defense, which ranked 95th in the country last season, can contain UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley just well enough, Nevada could pull off the upset.
WHY UCLA WILL WIN: Well we might as well start the #HUNDLEYFORHEISMAN campaign here. I’ve been on the Brett Hundley bandwagon ever since he first took over the starting job at Chandler (Ariz.) High School, and now the redshirt sophomore quarterback has his team in the midst of the national spotlight. Last season UCLA finished 24th in total offense, and 34th in passing offense, much in part thanks to Hundley. The redshirt sophomore finished last season with 3,745 passing yards and 29 touchdowns against just 11 interceptions, and hopes to start his potential Heisman campaign with a win over a tough team in Nevada. While the UCLA offense may be missing star running back Jonathan Franklin (who went to the NFL), there is expected to be a talented platoon of backs for Hundley to hand the ball to, including fellow Chandler High School alumni Paul Perkins. Hundley also will be missing tight end Joseph Fauria, but he will have star wideout Shaquelle Evans (86 rec. 1,247 yds., 5 TDs) returning this season. Anthony Barr will anchor an improved UCLA defense and secondary as UCLA looks to win the PAC-12 after being the South division champion and conference runner-up two years in a row.
PREDICTION: Both Fajardo and Hundley will light up the scoreboard, but the Bruins will come out on top at home, winning 45-31 in a game that will be closer than the score shows.
UCLA will host Nevada this Saturday, August 31st. The game will start at seven o’clock Pacific Time and will be shown on PAC-12 Network.