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Arizona-UCLA: Prediction

Jim Mora

New UCLA coach Jim Mora will try to end his program’s five-game skid vs. Arizona. Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The Arizona Wildcats have more than doubled the score of UCLA in the past five years, winning all five games by a combined score of 169-83.

But these aren’t the Bruins of Rick Neuheisel (or even Karl Dorrell).

Neuheisel had four years of bad luck at quarterback and made the questionable decision to redshirt Brett Hundley last season as a freshman while oft-injured veterans Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut mucked things up.

And we haven’t even mentioned the flop that was the Pistol offense.

New UCLA coach Jim Mora has reinvigorated the Bruins attack, giving the reins to the dual-threat Hundley, installing the spread offense of coordinator Noel Mazzone (who did just fine at Arizona State in the past two years) and giving healthy doses of handoffs to senior Johnathan Franklin.

Breaking news: Expect a shootout when Arizona plays UCLA at the Rose Bowl tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The Bruins average 502.9 yards per game, 12th in the country. The Wildcats average 553.6 yards per game, fourth in the country. No matchup in college football today features more combined yards.

“These college games are wild sometimes,” Mora told reporters this week, acknowledging his 25 years of experience in the more-stodgy NFL.

“It’s a new experience for me — some of these shootouts and some of these numbers that are getting put up. I think it has to do with the number of plays that are getting run. … That’s beyond anything that I’ve ever imagined. It’s a different game. It takes a little bit of getting used to.”

OK, so who wins?

UCLA doesn’t seem as able as some Pac-12 teams to attack Arizona’s weaknesses on defenses.

The Bruins have an offensive line that starts two redshirt freshmen and a true freshman, so it could be a wash against Arizona’s small defensive front that hasn’t been able to get a lot of pressure on the passer.

The Bruins have a standout tight end in Joseph Fauria, but their wideouts will look positively pedestrian after the Cats saw Marqise Lee and Robert Woods last week. Arizona’s cornerbacks should have a fighting chance tonight.

Hundley could be a difference-maker, and his running ability will vex the Cats on occasion. But if it comes down to a battle of quarterbacks, I’m taking Arizona’s Matt Scott.

Arizona 38, UCLA 35.

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