Lincoln Riley and Jalen Hurts are taking their show on the road this weekend when they travel out west to play the UCLA Bruins. It has been a fantastic start to the season for the Sooners and an absolute dreadful one for the Bruins. Dropping the season opener at Cincinnati and then the home opener last week, to San Diego State, has the fanbase reeling and Chip Kelly feeling some pressure in just his second season as head coach.
With 5th ranked Oklahoma coming to visit, UCLA has the perfect opportunity to either right the ship with a monumental upset win or completely send the season spiraling out of control with three of the next four games being against conference opponents on the road.
As we preview the match-up, here are three questions about the Bruins.
1. Can UCLA muster enough offense to challenge Oklahoma’s defense?
Saturday evening’s game will be the debut of Oklahoma’s new Speed Defense against a Power Five opponent. The Sooners have fared well through the first two games of the season, ranking 58th nationally in scoring defense at 22.5 points allowed per game.
The problem is, we may not truly know about the potential of Oklahoma’s defense until they host Texas Tech two weeks from Saturday. The reason being is that UCLA has been dreadful on offense, ranking below 100th in the major categories.
The Bruins are 102nd nationally in passing (177.5 YPG), 126th in rushing (62 YPG) and 120th in scoring (14 PPG).
2. Can the Bruins make Oklahoma one dimensional?
Moving the ball hasn’t really been a problem for the Sooners. Through two games Oklahoma is sitting on 1,419 yards of offense and seemingly the ability to move the ball at will. UCLA is going to try and challenge that by taking away the run.
The Bruins are currently holding opponents to an average of 2.7 yards per carry and the longest run they’ve allowed this season is 19 yards. That’s a stark contrast to the 8.7 yards per carry that the Sooners are averaging with a longest run of 75 yards. Limiting Oklahoma on the ground, or completely taking away the run, is UCLA’s one chance to stay competitive in this game.
3. Can UCLA take advantage of the left side of Oklahoma offensive line?
If you’re looking for a “chink in the armor” of Oklahoma’s offense then it’ll be found on the left side of the offensive line. That’s not really a secret to anyone either. Just watch film from either of the first two games, but more particularly last week when South Dakota’s Darin Greenfield caused some problems.
Greenfield stands a 6-3/235 and was explosive off the snap. The result was one recorded sack and a bunch of holding penalties for Oklahoma. UCLA’s defensive ends go 6-2/279 and 6-4/303. I’m not sure how explosive they’ll be off the snap but they’re for sure going to be bigger than what the Sooners faced last week. If you’re going to attack the OU offense then coming from the left side is 100% where you want to do it.
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