UCLA’s Defensive Revival: Will Washington State Expose Cracks?

For a month now, UCLA’s defense has appeared vastly improved from the versions that hampered every previous team under Chip Kelly. On Saturday at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins could find out if looks are deceiving.

Washington State’s Potent Aerial Assault


They will face a Washington State offense that is among the nation’s best, particularly when it comes to throwing the ball. Quarterback Cameron Ward leads a passing offense that ranks No. 2 nationally with an average of 405.8 yards per game through the air. Ward is coming off the best performance of his career, completing 28 of 34 passes for 404 yards and four touchdowns without an interception to spark the Cougars’ 38-35 victory over Oregon State. His 141 pass attempts this season are the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision without an interception.

> “He should be in the conversation with the top quarterbacks in the country,” Kelly said Monday. “He’s athletic, he’s sharp, he throws an extremely accurate ball. I think he’s got great ball location, repetitive accuracy. It seems like he’s doing a great job decision-making this year. He can obviously beat you with his legs.”

Ward’s rise has been part of a stunning transformation under new offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle. A year after Washington State plodded along on offense, averaging 360.7 yards per game, the No. 13 Cougars (4-0 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) are sixth nationally with an average of 532.2 yards piled up by a high-tempo attack.

Kelly said Washington State has smartly designed its offense around Ward’s dual-threat capabilities.

> “He keeps a lot of plays alive,” Kelly said. “They spread you out, they make you cover one-on-one and put you on islands at times. It’s tough sometimes for a rush to get home because Cam can keep plays alive. You know, he makes the off-schedule plays along with the on-schedule plays.”

UCLA’s Defense – A Test Awaits

2022 UCLA Football Position Preview: Defensive backs - Daily Bruin

UCLA’s defense has been stout… against far lesser competition. Giving up 11 points a game against two teams from Group of Five conferences, one from the Football Championship Subdivision and another that was nearly shut out by Oregon State last Friday leaves plenty of room to wonder about the significance of that statistic.

The Bruins have been better against the run (giving up 77.8 yards per game, No. 10 nationally) than against the pass (giving up 186 yards, No. 25), though both figures are impressive for a defense that once gave offenses almost whatever they wanted.

Kelly joked that a good showing Saturday would involve not allowing Ward to complete one pass, but the Bruins would likely settle for disrupting the quarterback enough to make his team rely more on a rushing game that’s produced only 126.5 yards per game.


The question lingers: Is UCLA’s defense for real? Washington State will provide insight. This matchup against Washington State’s high-flying offense, led by Cameron Ward, promises to be a litmus test for the Bruins’ defense. As UCLA faces a formidable aerial assault, it remains to be seen if their defensive improvements are genuine or if they are yet to be truly tested.

Stay tuned for Saturday’s game at the Rose Bowl, where the answers to this pressing question will unfold.

Analyzing Washington State’s Offensive Prowess

How good is USC’s offense compared to UCLA’s defense?

  • USC’s offense vs. UCLA’s defense: USC’s offensive performance appears to be slightly behind UCLA’s potent attack. It showed vulnerabilities in games against Washington State and Oregon State, suggesting that it’s not an indomitable force. In contrast, UCLA’s defense has a higher ceiling for improvement and boasts the presence of Tuli Tuipulotu, acknowledged as the most disruptive force in the conference among linemen. While USC’s offense may have untapped potential, it faces a formidable challenge against UCLA’s defense.

How good is UCLA vs Washington State?

  • UCLA vs. Washington State: A Defensive Battle? UCLA holds the 237th spot in KenPom’s adjusted tempo metric, with Washington State trailing closely at 254th. Both teams are known for their sturdy defense and don’t often engage in high-paced matches. Considering this, is it a good bet to take the Under? Washington State has shown a strong trend towards the Under, cashing in on this outcome in nine of its last ten games overall.

Will UCLA cover the spread against Washington?

  • UCLA vs. Washington: Can UCLA Beat the Spread? According to Matt Rooney’s prediction, UCLA is favored to win this matchup. The expectation is not just for a win but also for UCLA to cover the spread, with Washington at -3.5 points. Additionally, the projected total score is anticipated to fall below the posted total of 65.5 points. Is UCLA set to outperform the spread in this game?

Is Oregon’s rushing defense better than UCLA’s?

  • Oregon vs. UCLA: Who Reigns in Rushing Defense? In a clash of strong rushing attacks, Oregon stands at the league’s summit with an average of 241.7 yards per game, closely followed by UCLA at second place with 211.5 per game. The pivotal factor for both teams may just be their rushing defense. Oregon permits a mere 99 yards per game, while UCLA is right behind, averaging 98. Which team boasts the superior rushing defense in this matchup?

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