As they prepare to face off on the gridiron Saturday in Pasadena, UCLA has already won one battle versus Arizona State -- the contest for Myles Jack.
ASU was one of, well, 12 Pac-12 schools that attempted to lure Jack, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound freshman out of Bellevue, Wash.
Now a Bruin, Jack has turned into a two-way star, starting at outside linebacker while getting 19 carries out of the backfield over UCLA's last two games, due to an injury to Jordon James. And Jack has thrived there, getting 179 yards and five touchdowns in that span -- including four scores against his hometown Washington Huskies, who notoriously went all-in in Jack's recruiting process even after his verbal commitment to UCLA.
Jack has been a revelation of late for the Bruins, making big plays on both sides of the ball and taking the Bruins' battle with Arizona in Tucson two weeks ago by storm.
"I think the kid's an absolute star," Arizona State analyst Jeff Van Raaphorst said of Jack while a guest with Doug and Wolf on Wednesday.
"You can see why everybody in the conference wanted him. He's a throwback -- a two-way player."
His recent offensive exploits aside, Jack has recorded 67 tackles in 10 games for the Bruins this season, including 45 solo wrap-ups, which is second on the team. He also has an interception and a fumble recovery to boot.
Recruited as both a running back and a linebacker, as the No. 6 recruit out of Washington, Jack rides a hot streak into the battle for the PAC-12 South at the Rose Bowl and Van Raaphorst thinks Todd Graham and the Sun Devils will focus heavily on his role.
"He's spectacular any way you play him," the analyst said.
Jack's physicality and speed, Van Raaphorst believes, gives him the versatility required to play on both sides of the ball, which he calls a growing trend with those of the 18-year-old's physique and traits.
"You see so many guys that are converted running backs playing as edge backers because there's so much spread offense in college football," Van Raaphorst explained. "The outside backer's got to be able to run and play in space and be able track down these running backs. To me, those two positions are becoming more and more synonymous."
As ASU prepares to stop Jack and the UCLA rushing attack, which revolves around dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley, the analyst believes it's pertinent to treat the freshman back differently than they have past opponents. Unlike Washington's elusive star running back, Bishop Sankey -- who ASU held to 22 yards over 13 carries -- Jack brings a smashmouth running style to the field.
"He goes through the hole like he's planning on blowing someone up," told Van Raaphorst, "and then when he gets to the edge, he can reach out and grab another gear."
Given coach Jim Mora's manifold options out of the backfield as he prepares for the game, ASU is sure to have their hands full with the player who they lost to UCLA, Jack and company.