10 questions for the Washington-UCLA football game

Jennifer Buchanan photo

0-4 UCLA presents an opponent, but not a challenge

Traveling to Los Angeles for Saturday’s Washington-UCLA football game, you pass on the Marriott and the Hilton this time and decide to do something retro for weekend accommodations—stay at the Lafayette Hotel.

Of course, that’s where Red Sanders, the greatest Bruins football coach in school history, went inside one afternoon in 1958 and never came out. He died of a heart attack in the company of a hooker. It’s not clear if he scored or not.

Sorry to ruin your plans, but the Lafayette fell into disrepair in recent years—or remained in that very sorry state all along—and it appears to have closed. All phone numbers are disconnected. The last on-line review was posted last year and a woman described the place as a bug- and drug-infested establishment. So much for Sanders’ last stand.

With that travel tip, we give you 10 questions surrounding the latest Huskies-Bruins matchup:

  1. Does 0-4 UCLA have any chance of beating 10th-ranked Washington?

Yes. In 1963, six days before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, a Bruins team that would finish 2-8 upset the Rose Bowl-bound Huskies 14-0 in L.A. Fast forward 27 years later, and a UCLA team headed to a 5-6 record shocked second-ranked and Rose Bowl-qualifier UW 25-22 in Seattle. Is it likely to happen again? No.

  1. Did the Huskies ever beat Red Sanders?

Yes, once in nine tries. In 1950, the 10th-ranked Huskies led by Hugh McElhenny edged No. 13 UCLA 21-20. The teams tied 20-20 the next season in L.A., with Hurryin’ Hugh scoring all of his team’s points. McElhenny showed me that game ball once. In 1954, UW came the closest of anyone to beating Red’s coaching jewel, the 9-0 and eventual national champion Bruins, losing 21-20 in Seattle to a team that routed seven of nine opponents and shut out five of them.

  1. Will linebacker D.J. Beavers play this weekend?

The junior hasn’t stepped on the field since he got hurt in the opener against Auburn, but he hasn’t been removed from his starting spot on the lineup card the school passes out each week. D.J. is still listed as the first-teamer. That’s a sarcastic no.

  1. Is there any significance to playing UCLA in the Rose Bowl?

Yes to Pasadena, no to the Bruins. This very well could be a warm-up for the Huskies. Prognosticators have them picked to end up in the Granddaddy of them all for their New Year’s Day bowl game.

  1. What’s going on at left tackle for the UW?

Injured Trey Adams, apparently out for the season, is back on the sideline watching. His replacement, Jared Hilbers draws the starting assignment. However, Hilbers has shared playing time more and more each week with his backup, junior Henry Roberts, especially with the game on the line. Don’t be surprised if the veteran Roberts gets rewarded real soon with his first start.

  1. Has Chip Kelly ever lost to the UW?

No. In six outings, two as Oregon offensive coordinator and four as the Ducks head coach, Kelly ran the table against the Huskies in a big way. His teams scored 55, 44, 43, 53, 34 and 52 points. Remember that was Eugene, but this is now.

  1. Who’s that guy doing the LaVar Ball imitation?

UCLA’s new helicopter parent is Michael Robinson, father of Kelly’s recent starting quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who woke up the Twitter-sphere with the following rant: “It is all about the coaching, lousy coaching and play calling… Coaching that is so bad that it demands closed practices… Million dollar coach who bares (sic) no responsibility… Just random observations from a frustrated dad!” Wonder what he’ll have to say when Chip finally sits his kid down?

  1. Speaking of UCLA quarterbacks, who gets the start against the Huskies?

There’s a good chance Wilton Speight, the graduate senior transfer from Michigan, returns to the lineup this weekend after sitting out a couple of games with a back injury. He’s 6-foot-6 and 232 pounds. He’s had some success as a junior and a season-long Wolverines starter. He’s more of a thrower than Thompson-Robinson, which no doubt puts him in better favor with the offensive-minded and Twitter-splattered Kelly.

  1. Can Jake Browning keep throwing nothing but strikes?

After completing 11 consecutive passes and then 12 in a row against BYU last weekend, and finishing 23-for-25, Browning has never been better standing in the pocket and surveying the scene. When he gets protection like that, opposing secondaries pay. UCLA couldn’t lay a hand on Colorado’s Steven Montez. Look for the Huskies to come out throwing in the Rose Bowl.

  1. OK, who wins this particular Pasadena pairing?

Face it, the Bruins are a mess. Kelly has never lost to the Huskies but he’s about to. It almost seems as if this team is cursed, what with the 60th anniversary of Red Sanders’ death in a seedy hotel only promoting more bad tidings. That coach couldn’t finish what he was doing. Neither can this team. The program is about to go 0-5 for the fifth time in school history (joining the 1920, 1921, 1940 and 1943 teams). Washington 41, UCLA 14.

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