The UCLA Bruins come to Tempe this Saturday for an October conference showdown. The Bruins are the only South Division team coach Todd Graham has not beaten at Sun Devil Stadium. In fact, in the four games ASU and UCLA have played since Todd Graham took over the program, the visiting team has been the victor. Maybe this year will break that string.
Let’s see what the 2016 season stats tell us about the 3-2 Bruins, with a few 4-1 Sun Devil numbers mixed in. We have replaced the usual run/pass mix tables with a red zone anatomy table for both teams’ offense and defense.
Offensive & Defensive Statistics
Red Zone Efficiency
This Week’s Stat 12-Pack
1. Eight of the nine rushing touchdowns this year for UCLA came in just two games against UNLV, (5) and Arizona, (3).
2. In their two road games this year, UCLA has averaged just 2.36 yards per carry and one rushing touchdown.
3. In the three home games this year, the Bruins have thrown no interceptions, while in the two road contests, they have thrown four.
4. UCLA is last in the conference in passing completions in the red zone at less than 30-percent.
5. This year when UCLA is backed inside its own 20-yard line, the Bruins have completed over 82-percent of their passes and averaged 10.6 yards per pass attempt.
6. On third down this year, UCLA has passed the ball over 70-percent of the time, which is the second highest percentage in the conference. ASU has only passed 46-percent of the time on third down; the lowest percentage in the conference.
7. In the first two games of the season, the Bruin defense gave up five rushing touchdowns, however, in the last three games, they have only surrendered one.
8. In three home games this year, the UCLA defense has only given up two rushing touchdowns, whereas, in their two road games, they have allowed four.
9. UCLA is the only conference team to hold opponents under a 50-percent completion rate so far this year
10. In the first three quarters of their games this year, the UCLA defense has only allowed a touchdown pass once every 40 pass attempts, however, in the fourth quarter that drops to once every 14 pass attempts.
11. This season, the UCLA defense has allowed a pass reception of over 25 yards, on average, only once every 30 pass attempts, whereas for the ASU defense it is once every 12 pass attempts.
12. The Bruin defense allows only 27-percent of third down passes against them to obtain a first down; that’s second in the conference behind only Colorado.
Decoding the Stats
One of the strengths of the Bruins this year is its pass defense, especially in critical situations. So far the Bruins have yet to give up a third down touchdown pass. Plus, over a third of all the drives against the UCLA defense ended in a three-and-out. By contrast, just under a quarter of all drives against the ASU defense ended up as a “three-and-out”. The Bruin defense also keep opponents out of the end zone in the first half of their games in allowing only four touchdowns in five games so far this year.
Josh Rosen has slightly better productivity passing categories this season compared to last year, except in the all-important red zone. Also, in the first three games this year, Rosen averaged roughly 7.5 yards per pass attempt, but over the last two conference games the average jumped to 9.0. He has also only thrown one interception since the first game.
Where the Bruins have shown a few cracks is that in their three games against, Texas A&M, BYU and Stanford, they scored only one rushing touchdown, and averaged just 2.36 yards per carry. Also, all the interceptions thrown this year have come on the road, and the rush defense is ninth in the conference in the average yards per carry they allow in road games this year. That plays well for a Devil rushing attack at Sun Devil Stadium.
One thing you can probably count on this Saturday, when the Bruins face third down, they will probably pass the ball much more often than they run it, based on their propensity so far this year, along and a struggling ASU pass defense. In contrast, when ASU faces a third down, they may be inclined to run the ball more often, since the UCLA defense is tenth in the conference in the average yards per carry they allow on third down, and ASU leads the conference in converting third down runs into first downs.
In the four years under Jim Mora, UCLA has won each of its first four conference road games, all against South Division foes. On the other hand, after early season conference losses over the past three years, coach Todd Graham’s squads have all bounced back with a win in the very next game. Also, coming into this game, both coaches have identical conference records since joining this their schools, (24-14). Also, a loss for ASU will be the first time since 2012 that the Devils lost to both LA schools in the same year.
This is an important game for both teams as both already have a conference loss, and the loser of this game may have to wait until next year to win the division. This is especially true for ASU who will then have two losses within the division.
Sources: pac-12.com & cfbstats.com