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UCLA Sports

UCLA vs. Arizona State: A look at how the teams match up

UCLA running back Joshua Kelley carries the ball during a win over Stanford on Oct. 17.
UCLA running back Joshua Kelley will face a tough test against the Arizona State run defense on Saturday.
(Getty Images)

Breaking down the matchups for UCLA (2-5, 2-2) and No. 24 Arizona State (5-2, 2-2) ahead of Saturday’s game at the Rose Bowl at 4:30 p.m. (TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 1150.)

Marquee matchup

UCLA running back Joshua Kelley vs. the Arizona State defense. The constantly cheery Kelley has had even more reason to smile lately, continuing a surge in productivity by rushing for a season-high 176 yards against Stanford. He’s averaging 125.7 yards over his last three games and has moved into a tie with Manuel White for No. 20 on the school’s career rushing list with 1,814 yards in just 1½ seasons. Kelley will face a Sun Devils run defense that ranks second in the Pac-12 Conference, holding opponents to 100.1 yards per game.

Getting offensive

UCLA (405.6 ypg/27.3 ppg): Maybe Chip Kelly hasn’t lost his touch. The Bruins have piled up an average of 512.3 yards of offense over their last four games, including 221.5 on the ground and 290.8 through the air. The Bruins have also rushed for more than 200 yards in three straight games for the first time since 2015. Demetric Felton Jr., who has 34 catches, needs two more to tie George Farmer for the most in a season by a UCLA running back. Farmer set the school record in 1969.

Wade Lees, UCLA’s graduate transfer punter, has created a YouTube channel that has covered his backstory and will focus on Australian style punting in future episodes.
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Arizona State (364.6 ypg/22.1 ppg): Having failed in their efforts to land Sun Devils freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, the Bruins will try to withstand him. He’s coming off a regrettable performance against Utah in which he completed just four of 18 passes for 25 yards but has otherwise had a solid debut season. Eno Benjamin is among the most slippery running backs in the nation, forcing 42 missed tackles this season and gaining 298 yards after contact in Pac-12 games.

Getting defensive

UCLA (459.7 ypg/34.6 ppg): Defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro can rest easy, at least for the moment. His defense put together the Bruins’ best showing in a decade against Stanford, holding the Cardinal to 198 yards of offense. Who cares if it came against a team starting a third-string quarterback and two freshmen on the offensive line? The Bruins will try to replicate that effort against a Sun Devils offensive line that also starts two freshmen.

Arizona State (352.7 ypg/18.1 ppg): The Sun Devils are one of seven teams nationally to not give up a 50-yard play this season. They generated a season-high nine tackles for loss against Utah in addition to a season-high four takeaways against an opponent that had committed only three turnovers all season prior to facing the Sun Devils.

Something special

A year after its special teams were lampooned on a weekly basis, UCLA ranks first in the conference in kickoff returns (27.75 yards) and second in punt returns (20.29 yards). New special teams coordinator Derek Sage deserves credit for the quick turnaround.

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Linebacker Josh Woods has made a big impact on UCLA’s defense after his 2018 season was derailed by a serious knee injury he suffered in training camp.

Of note

UCLA is seeking its first home win of the season at the Rose Bowl after dropping its last four games at its home stadium going back to 2018.

Injury report

UCLA defensive lineman Elijah Wade’s availability is uncertain after he worked on the side of the practice field with a trainer through Wednesday, the last time reporters were allowed to watch part of practice. Safety Quentin Lake seems doubtful with the wrist injury that has sidelined him since the Oklahoma game last month. … Arizona State safety Cam Phillips, who missed last week’s game with a hamstring injury, is considered questionable.


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