October 14, 2006

UCLA take their act to Eugene

The UCLA Bruins are taking their act on the road once again and wish for better results this time around. The Bruins left a victory on the table in Seattle. UCLA hopes to win their first road game of the year in the always tough and inhospitable Autzen Stadium, home of the Oregon Ducks.

This is a big game for both programs. The loser of this game is pretty much out of the conference race while the winner will still be very much in the hunt. Yes the stakes are high.

UCLA will field the No. 1 defense in the Pac 10 against Oregon's conference best rated offense.

The Bruins face many defensive challenges in this game.

There is a reason why the Ducks are rated No. 1 in the conference on offense. Oregon runs the spread offense and they have several dangerous weapons at their disposal.

The Ducks are led by junior quarterback Dennis Dixon (6-4, 200) who leads the conference in total offense (averages 290.8 total offense per game) and passing.

Dixon has hit on 63.4 percent of his passes (109-172) for 1,295 yards and eight touchdowns passing against five interceptions. Three of Dixon's picks came in Oregon's only loss last week to Cal.

If Dixon isn't a daunting enough task for the Bruins the Ducks also possess an outstanding running game that showcases two outstanding running backs in Jonathan Stewart and former Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey star running back, Jeremiah Johnson.

Stewart has rushed for 482 yards and five touchdowns with an average of 6.3 yards per carry.

Johnson has 243 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 8.1 yards per carry.

One of the keys to Oregon's offensive success besides Dixon and the running backs are their wide receivers. They have a big physical group that present match up problems.

Sophomore wide receiver Jaison Williams stands 6-foot5 and leads the Pac 10 in receiving yards with 528 and his second in the conference in receptions with 33 and also has five touchdowns.

The other starting receivers are Jordan Kent, who is also 6-foot-5 and the small fry of the group is Bryan Paysinger who is 6-foot-2.

The Ducks also have talented wide receivers who will come of the bench and the smallest is former Long Beach (Calif.) Poly speedster Derrick Jones who is 6-foot-1.

Oregon's wide receiver corps is among the very best in the conference, but it would all be for not without the offensive line who has done a great job opening holes and protecting Dixon in passing situations.

The Bruins could use another offensive performance out of first-time starting quarterback, Patrick Cowan, like the one he had in relief of the injured Ben Olson, against Arizona, when he threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover.

The two keys of this game are how Cowan runs the offense and how the defense contains Dixon and the rest of the playmakers on the Oregon offense.

Without question, this is UCLA's biggest challenge of the season. This game pivotal for the Bruins.

A win will go a long way for the Bruins in both tangible and intangible ways. For one thing it will definitely help their confidence for the rest of the season and they will know that they can win on the road in a very tough environment.

A bit of good news regarding the weather, while it is cloudy and rainy in Southern California, in Eugene where the game will be played looks to be a balmy 71 degrees with some clouds it appears the weather will be hospitable if the not the Oregon faithful.

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