It’s usually about this time on a typical Friday when I try to fill this space with am incredibly insightful prediction on the following day’s Husky game.
As some/many/all of you have let me know, I haven’t done that very well of late. I’m not sure I’ve done quite as poorly as some of you think — I’m 4-4 on UW games for the season both straight-up and against-the-spread (and the ATS record could easily be 6-2, though it could also easily be 3-5).
But I have indeed missed four of the last six, three of the last four, and the last two.
So a few raspberries thrown my way are more than valid.
And what usually happens here is I make a pick, and then people comment about why I’m right or, more often, why I’m wrong (which is actually more than appreciated and a heck of a lot better than those who wait until the game is over and then let me know. Slow as I may be, I’ve usually figured it out by then).
But I thought for this week, given my recent ineptitude and the fact that this game is such a tough one to call — I haven’t seen anyone who has picked it predict a margin more than four points either way — I’d solicit your advice ahead of time.
So as I prepare to fly to L.A., tell me who is going to win, and try to do so with some insight — meaning something other than just “because UCLA sucks.”
I’m completely on the fence on this one so I really need some advice.
Before the season began, I frankly put this one in the “L” column for the Huskies without much thought. I thought then that UCLA just had a lot more talent than UW, especially on defense, and that the Bruins would figure out something on offense given the presence of Norm Chow, and what appears to be some good young players, especially at the skill position spots. And in all my years covering the Huskies — I’ve been at every game, home and road, since 1997 — this is one of just two places I’ve never seen them win a regular season game (the LA Coliseum is the other).
But other than a few flashes here and there, it really hasn’t happened for the Bruins as they rank as maybe the most disappointing team in the conference at 0-5 (3-5 overall). If UCLA had gotten run out of Corvallis last week, I was fully prepared to take UW, assuming Jake Locker returned to play, which seemed to be the right way to bet. But then in the fourth quarter, the Bruins rallied, driving the field twice for scores and getting close on another one at the end, showing that they haven’t quit and that their offense may finally be coming to life.
UW, meanwhile, has the advantage of coming off a bye, and an apparently pretty healthy Locker back in the fold at QB. But the Huskies also have lost 10 in a row on the road, haven’t won at UCLA since 1995 and have won just three Pac-10 road games in six years.
Neither team has shown much of an ability to run the ball or stop the run, usually the two most critical things in determining the winner in any game — UW is eighth in rushing in the Pac-10 and UCLA ninth, while UCLA is eighth defending the run and UW ninth.
UW’s offensive passing game is better — third in the conference to UCLA’s ninth. But then UCLA’s pass defense ranks more highly — second to UW’s seventh.
UCLA’s special teams look a little better on paper — PK Kai Forbath is the best in the conference having made 20-22. And maybe that’s enough to tip the game in UCLA’s favor, though I have to believe the Huskies will perform better in this area than they have the last three games.
As Natalie Imbruglia might say, I’m torn (and yes, I know that’s kind of a lame musical reference but my wife put that on my I-Pod without me knowing so I still unfortunately hear at least the first few seconds of it from time to time).
So help me out here — I assume most of you think the Huskies are going to win tomorrow. Use this space to tell me why. Thanks.