Baylor vs. UCLA: Defenders Who Must Give Bruins Edge in Expected Shootout

David DanielsSenior Writer IDecember 27, 2012

October 27, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of defensive struggles shouldn’t watch Baylor vs. UCLA.

There’s expected to be plenty of points put on the board in the 2012 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl. In fact, according to ESPN, the over/under for the contest is a whopping 82.5 points.

The Bears average 44.1 points per game, nine more than the Bruins. But on the flip side, UCLA only surrenders 25.9 points per game, 12.3 less than Baylor.

For the Bruins to outscore the Bears, their defense must be the difference.

Here are UCLA’s most talented defenders who’ll have the opportunity to be heroes on Thursday night.


4. Sheldon Price, CB

Nick Florence has stepped into Robert Griffin III’s shoes this season and played extremely well. UCLA is hoping Price makes Baylor fans miss RGIII by the end of the contest.

The senior cornerback picked off four passes this season, which ties him for the team lead, but each of those interceptions came in his first two games of the season.


3. Eric Kendricks, LB

Kendricks is a tackle-hog.

He has 63 more takedowns than any other Bruin on the team. The 6’0”, 230-pound sophomore is UCLA’s most likely candidate to frustrate the explosive Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin’s rushing efforts.


2. Andrew Abbott, S

Don’t underestimate Abbott just because he stands at 5’8”, 180 pounds. The senior safety is fourth on the Bruins in solo tackles this season and tied for first in interceptions. He’ll play a huge role in not only slowing down Seastrunk and Martin, but forcing Florence to make mistakes as well.


1. Anthony Barr, LB

It’ll be Barr’s job to make Florence’s life absolutely miserable.

The UCLA rush-linebacker has 13.0 sacks on the season—more than twice as many as the next defender on the team. The 6’4”, 235-pound junior is so talented that if he enters the upcoming NFL draft, he’d be a first-round candidate.

In what will potentially be his last game as a Bruin, expect Barr to go off in front of pro scouts.


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.