No. 18 UCLA continues tough stretch at No. 15 Oregon State

No. 18 UCLA will face its third consecutive top-15 opponent when the Bruins visit No. 15 Oregon State on Saturday in Pac-12 Conference action in Corvallis, Ore.

UCLA (4-1, 1-1) opened that stretch with a 14-7 setback at then-No. 11 Utah on Sept. 23. The Bruins returned from a bye week to beat then-No. 13 Washington State last Saturday, 25-17.

Despite the diverging results, UCLA allowed only one offensive touchdown to both the Utes and Cougars.

The Cougars came in averaging 45.8 points per game and had not scored less than 31 points in any of their four previous contests. Meanwhile, the 17 points Washington State finished with were the most the Bruins have allowed this season.

“Our defense played outstanding. The effort that whole group played the entire game, and it was at all levels,” UCLA coach Chip Kelly said Monday. “Our guys did a great job containing a very mobile quarterback.”

The Bruins allowed just 216 total yards of offense, including 12 rushing yards.

UCLA heads into Saturday’s matchup ranked third nationally against the run at 64.6 yards allowed a game, and eighth in points given up at 12.2 a contest — though the latter statistic is skewed by both Utah and Washington State scoring touchdowns off of interceptions by Bruins freshman quarterback Dante Moore.

Oregon State (5-1, 2-1) will counter UCLA’s standout defense with an offense scoring an average of 38.5 points per game.

The Beavers rebounded from a 38-35 loss at Washington State on Sept. 23 by winning their lowest-scoring game of the season thus far, a 21-7 grinder Sept. 29 at Utah, then held off Cal 52-40 last weekend.

Oregon State ran for 203 yards against Cal with the running-back tandem of Damien Martinez and Deshaun Fenwick combining for 165. The Beavers average 205 rushing yards per game, good for No. 16 in the country.

However, D.J. Uiagalelei set the pace last week with his best passing performance of the campaign. He completed 19 of 25 attempts for 275 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions against the Golden Bears.

“Not just completing the pass, but hitting them in stride. You see some of the catches and the yards gained after it — thinking about the two third-down throws to Anthony Gould, how accurate down the field those were,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said Monday.

Protecting Uiagalelei against a UCLA defense that Smith described as “long, athletic” with “as good of pass-rushers as we’ve seen” should prove crucial in this conference matchup, the last between the programs before the Bruins join the Big Ten next season.

UCLA defensive end Laiatu Latu has five sacks this season, with linebacker Darius Muasau boasting four. The Bruins rank No. 14 nationally in total team sacks with 18, and No. 12 in tackles for loss with 44.

Oregon State has allowed only six sacks in six games but has given up 30 tackles for loss.