Oregon vs. UCLA 5 Things to Watch

Well Duck fans, this is what College Football is made of- a crisp, fall afternoon with ESPN College GameDay in Eugene to celebrate all that is Duck Football.

In just about 4 hours, the #2 Ducks will face #12 UCLA in Autzen Stadium. Both have a whole lot riding on this game. The Bruins are on track to win the PAC-12 South and head to the PAC-12 Championship game, while the Ducks continue their journey to the Natty in Pasadena. You will NOT want to miss this game.

As usual here at gridirongirl, let’s keep it simple. Here are a few things to keep your attention.

1. De’Anthony Thomas Return.
Turns out staying late at post-practice interviews pays off. On Monday, I got the scoop from DAT, who confirmed he would return to the field this week after being out with an ankle injury. When asked if he was nervous about getting hit since it’s been a while, he responded, “When I’m in the game, I don’t really get hit that much.” Let’s hope that’s the case today (see #2).

2. UCLA Linebacker, Anthony Barr.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with this guy in Los Angeles this Summer at the PAC-12 Football Media Day. He was a total gentleman, walking with my fellow gridirongirl to the parking lot and chatting with us along the way. I will tell you this however, the kid is BIG and he’s a beast on the field. I let him know I’d be cheering for him this season, until he met “My Ducks!” I also requested that he take it easy on the Ducks- a request he unfortunately declined.

If any player is to make a difference for UCLA, this will be the guy. Watch to see if he’s able to get Mariota down behind the line of scrimmage. Also watch to see if he’s able to catch the Black Momba, De’Anthony Thomas.

3. Marcus Mariota.
Mariota is currently considered by most the Heisman front-runner. But, as ESPN College GameDay Analyst, Kirk Herbstreit, discussed yesterday, he doesn’t always get the exposure he deserves because much of the time, he plays while the east coast gets its beauty rest.

This will be Mariota’s big chance for maximum exposure. I don’t need to tell you this is one of the biggest stages he could be on right now. Watch to see how he handles the pressure and just how accurate he is. Last week, he had two fumbles, something he obviously regrets. After last week’s game, he told reporters he needed to take care of the ball more. I predict he will do nothing but that today. Mariota is very smart and even Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich have said in the past, he doesn’t make the same mistake twice.

4. Interceptions
Currently, the UCLA Offensive Line is a little banged up. That means, UCLA Quarterback, Brett Hundley, may not have the protection he will desperately need. He’s thrown quite a few interceptions this year, and if his line hasn’t found a good formula going into this week, we’re likely to see some interceptions by the Oregon Secondary. Today, I’ll be rooting for Oregon Safety, Brian Jackson to get that coveted Pick 6.

5. Oregon Wide Receiver, Daryle Hawkins.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This kid is talented. I’m not sure why but we haven’t heard his name much the past couple of weeks. I have a sneaky feeling we may see more play from him today and I’ll be watching for a Touchdown, or TWO, from #16.

Whether you’ll be at Autzen or snuggled up on the couch, throw up your O’s and get ready for a good show!

My score Prediction: Oregon 60 UCLA 23

Follow me on Twitter @UOgridirongirl  

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