U-C-L-A (6-6) at (8) Oregon (10-2)
Friday, December 2nd, 8:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The eighth-ranked Oregon Ducks will be hosting the inaugural Pac 12 Championship Game, as they welcome the UCLA Bruins to Autzen Field this Friday night.
UCLA sits at 6-6 heading in. The athletic department recently fired head coach Rick Neuheisel after a 50-0 loss to USC in the team's last outing. Neuheisel will be at the helm for this title game though.
With all the odds stacked against the Bruins, the underdogs have prepared all week and hope to shock the nation on Friday. Neuheisel commented about his team's chances heading to Eugene
"I believe our plan is a good one. Now the devil will be in the details making sure we do all the little things right because that's what it will take to beat a team as accomplished as Oregon. I know there is no such thing as a perfect game but we're going to have to get darn close."
Oregon missed out on its chance to play for a national title when it fell to USC on November 19th, but the 10-2 Ducks now have their attention focused on the Rose Bowl.
There have been instances in which the overwhelming favorites in games like these have taken their opponents too lightly, but Oregon's coach Chip Kelly dismissed the chances of his team coming in with an overconfident demeanor this week.
"We respect every opponent that we play. We had lifting scheduled for 10:30 and every kid on this team was in this building at 8:30."
UCLA holds the advantage in the all-time series 39-25, but it has been a struggle as of late for the Bruins. The Ducks have won three straight and nine of the last 11 meetings, including last year's 60-13 domination of UCLA which was the widest winning margin in series history.
UCLA's offense is streaky as of late. The Bruins put up 45 points on Colorado before being shut out by USC last week. Kevin Prince is not an easy player for the opposition to game plan against. Prince has had huge passing and rushing games this season as he dashed for 163 yards against California and threw for 225 yards and four touchdowns against Colorado. The main issue with the junior quarterback has been inconsistency. He can look like a budding superstar one week before delivering a sub par performance the next. UCLA will need Prince to deliver the best performance of his career in the biggest game of his career in order to win.
Johnathan Franklin and Nelson Rosario are the biggest weapons in the UCLA offensive attack. Franklin enters with 912 rushing yards on the year and has displayed big-play ability over the course of the season. Rosario eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark last week in the loss to USC. The sure handed wideout has had four 100-plus yard outings this season and will be targeted often by Prince.
The Bruins' defensive unit does not appear to have what it takes to slow down the Oregon attack. Texas, Stanford, Arizona, and USC have all scored 40-plus points against UCLA this season. The Bruins are ranked 84th in the nation in total defense as they allow 411.92 yards of total offense per game.
The Ducks' offensive success has been well documented over the course of the last two seasons. The nation's leading rusher and Heisman hopeful LaMichael James has already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive season. Stopping the lightning fast James is an impossible task as he might be one of the quickest running backs in college football history.
To go along with James, Chip Kelly also has an effective passing game. Darron Thomas might be one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, however his statistics do not accurately show this fact due to their lack of a need to throw. The Ducks are often ahead on the scoreboard as they have the third best scoring offense in the nation. Thomas has been efficient, as he has thrown for 2,274 yards and 27 touchdowns with just five interceptions.
Oregon's defense is not on the same level of its offense, but is still adequate. The Ducks are holding opponents to 23 points per game and 384.7 yards of total offense per game. The passing defense is weaker than most as it is ranked 91th in the nation.
UCLA is clearly not as talented or athletic as its counterpart in this one, but the Bruins have more on the line. The Bruins are playing for tomorrow, their soon to be departed coach, and for pride. Oregon will overpower UCLA as the game wears on, but do not expect the Bruins' senior class to roll over and accept an embarrassing loss to end their careers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oregon 45, UCLA 21
11/30 11:43:23 ET