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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 22, 2006 at 10:21 PM

How the Huskies can win

Okay, so I’m on record as picking UCLA to win.
But obviously this is a game the Huskies can win. In fact, it’s quite interesting that the spread has dropped two points in UW’s favor this week — from UCLA by five to UCLA by three. Those guys often know what they are talking about.
And when I look at it, I figure these are the things the Huskies can do to beat the Bruins:
 Rattle Ben Olson. In talking with Olson the other day, he seemed very composed and not at all the type who will come unglued in a road situation. On the other hand, this is his first road game as a college player and it wouldn’t be a shock if he did struggle with the surroundings. The crowd’s supposed to number around 65,000, so it could be the most raucous atmosphere at Husky Stadium in several years. If Olson doesn’t handle it well, that’s a big edge to UW. The big key will be getting to Olson early. Scott White told me this week that he played with Olson in a high school all-star game and that “we can’t let him get into a rhythm” because then he will be hard to stop.
 Run the ball. UCLA’s defensive numbers against the run look good — the Bruins are first in the Pac-10 allowing 82.5 yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry. UCLA’s two opponents, however, were Utah and Rice. And while Utah is a decent running team, Rice isn’t ranking 112th in the country after three games. So maybe those numbers are pretty meaningless. Also, UCLA has a smallish defensive line, one that maybe the Huskies can overpower a little, the way they did against Oklahoma at times.
 Win the special teams battle. UW hasn’t been great covering punts or kickoffs so far, but UCLA hasn’t been any good returning kicks of any kind. The Bruins have three punt returns for minus-two yards this year and three kickoff returns for 54 yards. So maybe this is one game where the Huskies won’t allow any returns that help lead to scores, unlike has happened the past two games.
 Take advantage of the law of averages. UCLA has won eight of the last nine against UW and the last five in a row. But last year, UCLA had to rally late to win, and the Huskies seemed to match up physically quite well. The Huskies may just be due to finally win one against UCLA.

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