Rose Bowl provides sanctuary for struggling UCLA defense – Orange County Register

Kenny Young believes in the magic of the Rose Bowl. The linebacker and the rest of the UCLA defense has survived on it during what is becoming one of the worst defensive seasons in school history.

“It’s like you’re with your family and it’s just like a party going on,” Young said of playing on the Bruins’ home field. “You’re just having fun. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, you’re just out there having fun, giving it all you’ve got. And just celebrating with your brothers. … There’s something special about playing in the Rose Bowl.”

UCLA’s best path to bowl eligibility runs through Pasadena where the Bruins (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) have two of their final three games. If they win those, starting with Saturday’s game against Arizona State at 6:30 p.m., they’ll scrape by with the required six victories.

The defense is on pace to relinquish 3,638 total rushing yards in 12 games this season — a mark that would shatter the current school record of 2,793 set in 2005 — but finds a way to get a small respite at home. The Bruins allow 435 yards per game at the Rose Bowl compared to 533.2 yards per road game this year.

It helps that UCLA’s four home opponents — Texas A&M, Hawaii, Colorado, and Oregon — have a combined 18-20 record. The five teams the Bruins have faced on the road are 33-12.

UCLA’s last home game was one of its best defensive performances of the year. The Bruins held Oregon to 320 yards, a season low for a UCLA opponent this year, and kept the the Ducks scoreless in the second half. But Oregon was crippled without its starting quarterback.

Arizona State (5-4, 4-2 Pac-12) has never lost at the Rose Bowl during UCLA head coach Jim Mora’s tenure and is coming off a season-high 381 rushing yards.

The Bruins will need to conjure more home-cooked magic this weekend.

“I have no idea,” defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said of how to account for UCLA’s drastic home field advantage. “I just hope it…

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