Skip to main content

Arizona State vs. UCLA Football Prediction and Preview

Arizona State vs. UCLA Football Prediction and Preview

Arizona State (ASU) vs. UCLA Prediction and Preview

Fresh off one of its worst offensive performances in recent memory, Arizona State is searching for a fresh start when it visits UCLA on Saturday.

The No. 24 Sun Devils (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12) were manhandled in a 21-3 loss to No. 12 Utah. Arizona State totaled just 136 yards — including a paltry 25 passing yards. Despite forcing four turnovers, the Sun Devils flat out could not move the ball. They had no drive longer than 28 yards on the day and saw a 125-game streak of scoring 10 or more points snapped.

Things look much rosier for the Bruins (2-5, 2-2) than this time a week ago. UCLA is coming off its most complete performance of the season. The Bruins dominated Stanford in a 34-16 victory, snapping an 11-game losing streak in the series dating back to 2007. They outgained the Cardinal 455 to 198 in total yardage. On the other side of the ball, UCLA tallied seven sacks.

UCLA owns a 20-14-1 advantage in the all-time series. Arizona State chalked up a 31-28 victory in last year's meeting in Tempe. The Sun Devils have won three of four games against the Bruins overall, with the lone loss — a 44-37 result — coming during their last trip to the Rose Bowl in 2017.

Arizona State at UCLA

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: Arizona State -3.5

When Arizona State Has the Ball

There's no place to go but up for the Sun Devils' offense after it flat-lined against the Utes. Arizona State had seemingly put it together on offense after struggling to finish drives in non-conference play. Now the Sun Devils are back to square one.

Jayden Daniels came back to Earth with a resounding thud at Utah. The freshman quarterback totaled a scant 25 yards on 4-of-18 passing. Daniels spent the bulk of four quarters evading constant pressure from the Utes' defensive line and rarely got clean looks at his receivers. That's likely to change against a UCLA defense that gives up 312.4 passing yards per game. Only Colorado allows more passing yards among Pac-12 teams.

Daniels has the ability to punish the Bruins through the air. He has three 300-yard passing games to his credit. Brandon Aiyuk is his favorite target and a verifiable deep threat. The senior ranks second in the Pac-12 with 658 receiving yards and averages 20.6 yards per catch.

Eno Benjamin will make life equally tough on the ground. Benjamin is the only player to put up at least 100 rushing yards on Utah's defense this season. He finished with 104 yards on 15 carries against the Utes. For the season, Benjamin has 633 yards and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

When UCLA Has the Ball

Everything clicked for UCLA on offense in its win over Stanford. The Bruins took care of the ball, finished drives, and generally resembled the sort of explosive attack that fans have been waiting to see since Chip Kelly took over the program.

A revived running attack has helped UCLA recover from early-season offensive woes. Joshua Kelley posted a season-high 176 yards on 18 carries against Stanford and helped the Bruins total 263 yards on the ground. It marked the third consecutive contest where UCLA finished with at least 200 rushing yards. The Bruins also tallied 256 yards on the ground against Oregon State and rushed for 217 yards against Arizona.

Running well against Arizona State will not be a simple task. The Sun Devils allow just 100.1 rushing yards per game. Only Utah allows fewer rushing yards among Pac-12 teams. Dorian Thompson-Robinson will need to come up with another big performance to loosen up the Arizona State defense. Thompson-Robinson threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinal. His top target, Kyle Phillips, finished with a career-high 100 yards and two touchdowns on 10 receptions.

Final Analysis

UCLA seems to have turned a corner on offense in Pac-12 play. The Bruins are finishing drives and are showing some promise of continued progression on that side of the ball. Still, Arizona State does not offer a matchup. The Sun Devils have more enough weapons in their arsenal to torch UCLA's porous pass defense. Look for Arizona State to post a bounce-back win to remain a Top 25 team and make the Sun Devils bowl eligbile.

Image placeholder title

Prediction: Arizona State 28, UCLA 20

— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.