After a month-long Covid hiatus, the Arizona State Sun Devils (0-1) return to action to face the UCLA Bruins (2-2) on Saturday night at Sun Devil stadium. The Bruins will certainly have an advantage as the Sun Devils will look to cover any signs of rust. UCLA won last year’s matchup, 42-32, after stopping ASU’s late comeback attempt. Here are a few key matchups and analysis to look at before what will hope to be a high-scoring battle once again.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson returns to his starting role after missing 2 weeks after a Covid-19 tracing issue. Both Thompson-Robinson and ASU quarterback, Jayden Daniels were named to the Davey O’Brien Award watchlist during the college football preseason.
DTR has the advantage with more repetition this season but both men have been sidelined due to the virus in an already shortened season. Last year’s battle brought out the best in both quarterbacks. With limited time to showcase their ability, look for these two signal-callers to battle to outshine the other.
2. USC’s rushing offense vs UCLA’s run-stopping defense
Daniels torched the USC defense with his legs after finishing the game with 111 rushing yards. UCLA’s two losses came at the hands (or legs) of two dual-threat quarterbacks (Tyler Shough and Sam Noyer). There is some sense of hope as the Bruins defense held the PAC 12 top rushing offense in Oregon to only 88 yards.
In order to be successful, UCLA must contain Jayden Daniels and force him to throw in the pocket. Something that he struggled with in the season opener.
The Bruins must also look out for running backs DeaMonte Trayanum and Rachaad White, who both combined for 230 total yards, averaging over six yards on the ground, and three touchdowns. The Bruins will most likely have to pick their poison if they can’t shut down all three of the Sun Devil’s rushing leaders.
3. Turnovers vs Turnovers
In their season opener, Arizona State coughed up three crucial turnovers. This has been a consistent issue for UCLA as well throughout the season. In their two losses, they turned the ball over four times each game. The turnover battle will be key in this matchup. The deciding factor will come down to who commits the most turnovers and who can capitalize on the mistakes of these turnovers.
The Bruins will win if…
Despite the layoff, DTR must play his best game for two reasons: UCLA can get a win and he can remain the starter ahead of a hungry and somewhat proven Chase Griffin. UCLA’s defense must key in early on the Sun Devil’s rushing attack and force Daniels to become a pocket quarterback. They must, if not eliminate turnovers completely, have less than their opponent.
This game can quickly escalate into a high scoring battle if both defenses start to slip up. For both teams, they have either played well in the first half and slacked off in the second or vice versa. The Bruins must play a complete game of football in all four quarters in order to come out as the victor.
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