Pasadena, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - After stumbling through their toughest stretch of the season the 17th-ranked UCLA Bruins will try to regain their footing when they host the Colorado Buffaloes at the Rose Bowl for a Pac-12 matchup.
No team in the country would claim to be envious of the two-game stretch UCLA just endured as it took on No. 5 Stanford and No. 2 Oregon, on the road, in back-to-back weeks. Neither contest ended well for the Bruins, who suffered a 42-14 loss to the Ducks in Eugene a week after taking their first loss of the season against the Cardinal. UCLA did hang with the Ducks more than the final score would indicate, as it was tied 14-14 at halftime, but the Bruins couldn't keep pace in the second half.
"We weren't satisfied with being 14-14 at halftime. There are no moral victories in sports, not when you're trying to be a champion. We reject that notion," UCLA head coach Jim Mora said. "It showed me that we're so close, but it doesn't matter. We're not after being close, to heck with being close. Losers can be close. We want to get it. We want to win those games."
At 5-2 overall and 2-2 in league play, UCLA is still alive in the league title chase but its margin of error is razor thin.
Colorado is certainly a team UCLA wants to see in trying to bounce back. The Buffaloes may have a 3-4 overall record this season but two of those wins have come against FCS programs. The Buffaloes have been a rather weak squad with losses in all four of their Pac-12 bouts, including a 44-20 rout at the hands of Arizona last weekend.
"It's very disconcerting, we just got to keep fighting and moving forward," Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "It's disheartening for the kids; they're battling right there."
UCLA rolled to a 42-14 victory over Colorado a year ago. The Bruins have won the last two meetings in the series by a combined score of 87-20. In all, the Bruins have won six of eight all-time meetings.
A look at the rankings of teams in the Pac-12 based on offensive production shows a lot of impressive units. Colorado is not one of those teams as the Buffaloes are ranked dead-last in the league in total yards (377.3 ypg).
Sefo Liufau has officially taken over at quarterback after Connor Wood was rather disappointing in his stint under center. Liufau hasn't been overly impressive thus far but he has completed 62.8 percent of his pass attempts for 579 yards and three scores in his three games. In the loss to Arizona Liufau tossed a touchdown and 212 yards on 17-of-32 passing but was intercepted for the first time this season. Liufau adds another dimension to the Colorado offense with his ability to run the ball.
If there is any positive for the Buffaloes on offense this season it has come from wide receiver Paul Richardson. Richardson (50 receptions, 914 yards, seven TDs) is leading the Buffaloes in every receiving category and among the league leaders in every category as well. Most telling is that Richardson has 15 catches of 20 or more yards. The rest of the team has eight combined. Nelson Spruce (26 receptions, 303 yards, two TDs) is the second option.
Michael Adkins (369 yards, five TDs) is the primary rushing option and the most dynamic on the squad, as he is netting 5.7 yards per carry.
Addison Gillam (74 tackles. 5.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and Chidera Uzo-Diribe (30 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) anchor the Colorado defense. Colorado hasn't been the worst defense in the conference, but by allowing 475.4 yards per game each week the Buffaloes are better than only California, which is 1-7 overall.
Normally an impressive offensive machine, UCLA did not look that way against Oregon. The Bruins are averaging more than 460 yards of total offense a game but they managed just 283 against the Ducks. It was the second straight week the Bruins have been stymied.
During the struggles no one has seen more of a dropoff in production than quarterback Brett Hundley. It was a low-point in the season for Hundley against Oregon as he had season-lows in yards (64), completions (13) and efficiency rating (93.03). Hundley was also intercepted twice, the second time that has happened in as many weeks. In all, Hundley's numbers are still strong (146-of-218, 1,725 yards, 14 TDs, eight INTs) but he needs to get beyond this rough patch quickly.
Hundley did managed to rush for 72 yards and a score against Oregon, showing that when the pass is not working he can still make plays. Paul Perkins (331 yards, three TDs) was the leading rusher in the contest with 93 yards on 22 carries. Perkins has been seeing an increase in his workload of late with Jordon James sidelined for the last three games with an injury. James is not listed on the injury report this week.
There wasn't much of an opportunity for Shaquelle Evans (27 receptions, 340 yard, five TDs) and Devin Fuller (31 receptions, 318 yards, two TDs) to showcase their skills as the leading receivers for UCLA against Oregon. The pair combined for seven catches but only 39 yards.
Anthony Barr has not seemed to care who the Bruins are playing. Against Oregon, the All-American managed a pair of sacks and also forced a fumble which he recovered. On the season, Barr leads the Bruins with six sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Keenan Graham (5.0 sacks) and Eric Kendricks (65 tackles) have also kept the Bruins strong up front, while Ishmael Adams (three INTs) anchors the secondary.