After failing to stop Stanford's Christian McCaffrey last season, UCLA will try its luck again on Saturday (8 p.m., ET) when the Bruins play host to the seventh-ranked Cardinal.
McCaffrey rushed for a school-record 243 yards and finished with 369 all-purpose yards in last season's 56-35 victory over UCLA.
"He has to be a tremendous focus," Bruins coach Jim Mora said. "He can't be all our focus, but he has to be the main focus. In my opinion, it's not even arguable - he's the best player in college football. He was last year and he is this year. ...
"He does so many things so well. He's dynamic, elusive, tough to tackle, has great physical and mental toughness. Intelligent. And what I appreciate is the way he competes. He's a great competitor."
Stanford (2-0 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) is coming off a 27-10 victory over USC.
UCLA (2-1) dropped out of the national rankings after its season-opening loss at Texas A&M, but rebounded with wins over UNLV and BYU, respectively. The Bruins are second among "others receiving votes" in the AP poll.
In addition to his happy memories against UCLA, McCaffrey has a good history at the Rose Bowl. On Jan. 1, he set a Rose Bowl-record with 368 all-purpose yards in a thumping of Iowa.
In beating USC last week, the Cardinal ran the ball 47 times for 295 yards, with just 15 pass attempts. While top wide receiver Michael Rector isn't getting much action in the old-school offense, he did have a 56-yard end around for a touchdown against the Trojans.
McCaffrey rushed 30 times for 165 yards against USC, also catching four passes for 73 yards - scoring on a 56-yard catch-and-run.
"I think our MO is pretty much set in stone," said David Shaw, in his sixth year as Stanford's head coach. "If we get a two-score lead in the second half, we're going to run it. We're going to be physical. We talk about intellectual brutality; we're trying to end the game with the ball in our hands."
Stanford outrushed USC 295-117, with 51 yards on 11 carries coming from backup running back Bryce Love, the team's fastest player.
UCLA sophomore Josh Rosen, one of the top NFL quarterback prospects in the nation, has thrown for 917 yards, with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Rosen threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 17-14 victory at BYU, but it was the Bruins' defense that was key.
UCLA held BYU to 23 yards on 25 rushes, including four sacks. That's a standout performance against running back Jamaal Williams and dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill.
"Anytime the quarterback is sacked, you have to look at the reason why he was sacked," Mora said after the game.
"I think as much credit should go to the secondary as it does to the front. It's a team thing. We played a ton of man coverage, and those young men did a tremendous job under a lot of stress. That allowed our rush to get there. When they're working together like that, it allows good things to happen."
A potential difference-maker in this year's matchup is UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, a 325-pound run-stuffer who missed last year's game after suffering a torn ACL in the opener. He and 325-pound defensive lineman Eli Ankou have the kind of beef needed to counter Stanford's power attack.
That ground game has taken the pressure off new starting quarterback Ryan Burns, who completed 9 of 15 passes 109 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, against USC.
Predictions and Pick to Win
Stanford 42, UCLA 35
Stanford is in the midst of a difficult first half of the season. After this, the Cardinal plays at Washington on a short week, then hosts Washington State and goes to Notre Dame.
The Cardinal has won eight in a row against UCLA, with an average margin of victory of 37-18 in the past three.
UCLA, though, is 13-7 against ranked opponents under Mora, including a 4-1 mark in each of the past two seasons.