NCAAF: High-flying No. 12 UCLA looks to avoid slipup at Arizona State
Sporting the program’s best positioning in the College Football Playoff rankings in eight years, No. 12 UCLA heads to Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday for a Pac-12 Conference matchup against Arizona State.
Still, Bruins coach Chip Kelly knows how quickly a team’s fortunes can change.
“It’s nice that we’re recognized… but you’ve got to keep winning, because if you lose next week — and I know this from a rankings standpoint — you’re not (No. 12) anymore,” Kelly said. “The only way you can continue to move up is if you continue to win.”
The last time UCLA had a higher spot in the CFP ratings was on Nov. 25, 2014, in the first year of the current system. The Bruins have never been slotted higher in the opening rankings of a season, and before this week, they had not made the CFP ratings at all since 2015.
UCLA (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) is seeking a second consecutive victory after routing Stanford 38-13 last week. The blowout of the Cardinal came one Saturday after a 45-30 loss to Oregon marked the Bruins’ first setback of the season, a result that ended UCLA’s nine-game winning streak dating back to the 2021 campaign.
Stanford did not reach the end zone until well after the game was in hand, scoring with 4:11 remaining. A stout defensive effort (270 total yards allowed) complemented a dominant performance from the UCLA rushing attack, which posted 324 yards and five touchdowns. Zach Charbonnet was responsible for 198 rushing yards and three TDs, earning the Doak Walker Award National Running Back of the Week for his exploits.
The Bruins aim to continue that defensive intensity against an Arizona State offense that has run hot-and-cold through a tumultuous season.
The Sun Devils (3-5, 2-3) have scored 45 and 42 points in two of their last three contests — the team’s two wins under interim head coach Shaun Aguano. The other game in that span was a 15-14 loss at Stanford.
Aguano replaced Herm Edwards, who was fired on Sept. 18 following a 30-21 home loss to Eastern Michigan left the Sun Devils with a 1-2 mark.
Arizona State led by as many as 22 points last week before holding off a fourth-quarter Colorado rally to post a 42-34 road win.
Sun Devils sophomore Trenton Bourguet set a program record for a quarterback making his first career start, racking up 435 yards on 32-of-43 passing. He threw for three touchdowns and was intercepted once.
A consistent passing attack opened up rushing lanes for running back Xazavian Valladay, who produced 118 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries.
“The kids’ excitement of opening it up a little bit, getting the tight ends involved, hopefully it was working,” Aguano said of offensive tweaks, which included his taking over the play-calling.
Integrating tight ends into the passing game included heavy usage of Jalin Conyers, who caught all three of Bourguet’s touchdown passes. Conyers finished with 108 yards receiving on six grabs.
–Field Level Media