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November 14, 2013

Previewing UCLA




Washington(6-3, 3-3) is entering the final stretch of their season beginning with a daunting road game against the No. 13 UCLA Bruins (7-2, 4-2) on Friday night.

This is the first meeting between the two teams since 2010, when the Huskies beat UCLA 25-7 in Seattle. Though the Huskies won the last game against UCLA, the Bruins have won seven-straight home games in their series against Washington.

At this point of the season every game is a must-win game - and for the Huskies and Bruins, this game pits two of Pac-12's second tier teams against each other. Washington wants to prove its earlier loss to Arizona State loss was just a hiccup. Wins in the final three games of the season would give Washington a 9-3 record, its best under the tenure of Head Coach Steve Sarkisian.

On the other hand, the Bruins need to win this game to increase their chances of playing in the Pac-12 championship. The Bruins are one game behind the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 South division.

While the Huskies are coming off of two consecutive blowout victories over California and Colorado, the Bruins enter Friday night with two consecutive wins over Colorado and Arizona.

Freshman linebacker and Bellevue High School product Myles Jack was the team's star in their 31-26 victory over the Wildcats last Saturday in Tucson. Jack played running back in a special offensive package in which he ran for 120 yards on six carries.

The Bruins have several weapons on offense; including senior wide receiver Shaquelle Evans and sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley. Evans has seven touchdowns this season and will cause the Huskies problems on special teams as one of the best punt returns in the Pac-12.

The Bruins' leader on offense, Hundley, is coming off of two strong performances, with a combined 500 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions in UCLA's two wins against Colorado and Arizona.

On defense, senior linebacker Anthony Barr is the Bruins' best player. He currently ranks fourth in the nation in forced fumbles at .44 per game. Junior linebacker Eric Kendricks and senior linebacker Jordan Zumwalt also contribute a wealth of experience in the second level of the Bruins' defense.

The keys to this game on offense are simple for the Huskies: Bishop Sankey and bubble screens. Once these two things are established, the passing game opens up and the hurry-up no huddle offense starts humming.

Though junior wide receiver Kasen Williams is out for the season, the Huskies proved they can get by just fine with junior tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, freshman wide receiver John Ross and sophomore wide receivers Jaydon Mickens and Marvin Hall.

Unlike Washington's games against Stanford and Oregon, the team does not have to play flawless to win this game. However, like every game, the Huskies do need to limit its turnovers and penalties to win on Friday night.

The Bruins are favored by 2.5 points and considering how both teams have fared against common opponents, it's easy to see why some think Washington can pull off the upset. Add that factor in with the fact that the team is coming off of two convincing and confidence-building wins - this may be the year that Washington breaks its seven-game losing spell against the Bruins at the Rose Bowl. At the same time, this is a road game for the Huskies, adding another dimension of difficulty to the equation.

Momentum will serve its purpose in the game for the Huskies. A confident bunch of Huskies will upset the Bruins on Friday night and continue its three-year streak of upsetting at least two ranked opponents.

Prediction: Washington 35, UCLA 27

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