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UCLA Bruins vs. Oregon State Beavers Preview and Prediction

Jim Mora

Jim Mora

UCLA controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 South. The Bruins are just one game behind Utah in the division standings, but with games still left against the Utes and archrival USC, they have a clear path to the Pac-12 title game. If UCLA beats both teams, and avoids stumbling to other teams along the way, the Bruins will clinch another Pac-12 South title.

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Avoiding an upset loss to Oregon State is the first step. The Beavers are the only Pac-12 team without a victory, but they have a history of taking down ranked foes in their home stadium. Then again, UCLA's recent track record on the road suggests the Bruins will be well prepared. The Bruins have won seven of their last eight Pac-12 road games and 12 of their last 13 contests played away from the Rose Bowl.

UCLA holds a 41-16-4 lead in the all-time series with Oregon State. The Beavers won the last meeting in 2012, defeating the Bruins, then ranked No. 19, 27-20 at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA at Oregon State

Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: UCLA -18

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Three Things to Watch

1. Airing it Out

There's a good reason why freshman QB Josh Rosen has lived up to the hype in his debut season. A talented group of receivers are making life easier for Rosen. Over the last five games, senior receiver Jordan Payton and junior receiver Thomas Duartehave combined for 61 receptions for 939 yards and seven touchdowns. Payton has caught a pass in a team-best 24 straight games. He has totaled 681 yards on 45 catches this season, while Duarte has 550 yards on 36 catches. They both rank in the top 10 among Pac-12 receivers in receptions and receiving yards per game.

2. Filling in Again

Sophomore quarterback Nick Mitchell will make his second consecutive start for Oregon State this weekend. Seth Collins, who won the starting job to begin the season, has been out since injuring his knee in practice before the game at Utah. Collins did not travel with the team to Salt Lake City and there is no timetable for his return. Mitchell threw for 204 yards and a touchdown on 19-of-35 passing in the loss to the Utes last weekend. He also ran for 40 yards on 12 carries.

3. Anchoring the Line

Senior center Jake Brendel has a chance to put his name in the UCLA record books. Brendel will make his 48th career start for the Bruins against Oregon State. This matches Spencer Havner for most career starts by a Bruin player. Havner started 48 games at linebacker for UCLA from 2002 to 2005. Brendel has done a good job of anchoring the Bruin offensive line this season. He is a Campbell Trophy Finalist and has been on the Rimington and Outland Trophy watch lists this season.

Final Analysis

Oregon State has shown improvement on defense the past two weeks after a rough start on that side of the ball in Pac-12 play. It likely won't be enough to offset a Beavers' offense that ranks dead last in the Pac-12 in several key offensive categories. UCLA has too many skilled playmakers on both sides of the ball for Oregon State to handle.

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Prediction: UCLA 34, Oregon State 17

— 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.