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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA football heads to Pasadena, Calif. to play UCLA in first true road game of the 2016 season

Tyler Baker

The defensive line prepares for a play from UCLA at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 26, 2015. UCLA handed Arizona its first loss of the season by a score of 56-30.

Arizona and UCLA face off Saturday in a matchup that has two Pac-12 South teams looking to get back on track. It will be Arizona’s first true road game of the season as the Wildcats travel to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Arizona and UCLA both come into this game at 2-2 and one week removed from heartbreaking defeats.

The Wildcats almost pulled off the upset at home against then-No. 9 Washington before falling in overtime 35-28 on a failed fourth-down attempt. UCLA surrendered two last-minute touchdowns to Stanford and ultimately fell 22-13 to the then-No. 7 Cardinal.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez and UCLA head coach Jim Mora are both entering their fifth year with their respective program, and Arizona has yet to beat UCLA in the Rodriguez era.

ESPN’s College Gameday came to Tucson last season in a highly-anticipated matchup that saw then-No. 9 UCLA take it to the then-No. 16 Wildcats. The Bruins’ offense gashed Arizona’s defense for 213 yards and six touchdowns on the ground as the Wildcats struggled to wrap up tackles and negate big plays.

UCLA demolished Arizona to start the Wildcats’ spiraling downfall in 2015. Rodriguez saw his team’s 3-0 start turn into a 6-6 regular season record.

UCLA is led by sophomore sensation Josh Rosen, who has thrown for 1,165 yards and five touchdowns to four interceptions this season. He threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns while also running for another score in Arizona Stadium last year.

While Rosen’s stats are down from a year ago, this is not the same offense the Bruins ran last year in Tucson.

“They are less spread in their base principals. They are more I-Formation and more tight-end orientated,” Rodriguez said. “They are not as much up-tempo as last year, so where practicing against ourselves would not help as much.”

Quarterback Brandon Dawkins will likely get the start for Arizona and is coming off a solid all-around effort, albeit in a loss against Washington.

Dawkins threw for 167 yards and a touchdown while also adding 176 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, including a 79-yard scamper in the second quarter.

The Wildcats’ running game outside of Dawkins is an uncertainty at this point with Nick Wilson and J.J. Taylor both out with injuries. So Rodriguez might have to take a committee approach.

“We are repping Samajie Grant over there, Tyrell Johnson, Zach Green…so it is unfortunate, but we will have enough guys,” Rodriguez said.

While this game may not have as much buildup as last year’s, it has pretty important implications in the Pac-12 South. The loser will likely fall behind two games in the division and need utter chaos in the Pac-12 South to gain ground.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

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