Alright folks, it's college football Saturday and our Bruins will get their Pac-12 conference schedule going against the Oregon State Beavers today. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. PT, and for those of you unable to make it to the Rose Bowl, it will be nationally televised on ABC/ESPN2.
Our Bruins have been rolling, beating Houston by 31 points even though the execution was poor and the offensive focus seemed off. Oregon State will be coming to the Rose Bowl, very well rested, having played just one game in the first three weeks of the season. But, the Beavers' one game showed they aren't going to be a push-over, as they held #13-ranked Wisconsin in check, shut down Heisman hopeful Montee Ball, and upset the Badgers, 10-7. So, today will be an interesting test for both teams. For the Beavers, they will have to once again try to stop one of college football's best runners, with Jet Ski leading the nation in rushing yards, while the Bruins maintaining their poise and focus against an unranked opponent will be key: for us, it will allow us to see how Jet Ski runs against the same defense that shut down Ball, so a big day on the ground for the Mayor will do much to further establish his Heisman credentials.
With that, let's turn to the bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse to kick off our Saturday game day coverage:
- Starting with the opponents' perspective, The Oregonian has their game preview up, and despite the line from Vegas favoring the Bruins by 7.5, the Beaver homers are predicting a 31-28 victory for Oregon State. This is not going to be the cupcake team we've faced in the past: the Bruins will need to be locked in and bring the BOOM if they want to come away with a solid win.
- The more neutral, vanilla preview by the Associated Press is available at the Washington Post, with the AP taking note of UCLA's potent offense coming up against an Oregon State defense that shut down Wisconsin, albeit a Badgers squad, not led by the scramblin' Russell Wilson, but the more traditional pocket QB in Danny O'Brien. If Hundley can make good reads, extend plays with his feet, and keep Oregon State honest with his legs, it will give UCLA an edge that Wisconsin did not have.
- In case you missed it, Coach Mora indicated on Thursday, that offensive guard Jeff Baca could return today, which would be a huge boost to the offense, which struggled to assert themselves with Brett Downey filling in. Also, UCLA will debut a new system of calling offensive plays today, adopting the large picture placards utilized by the Beavers' hated in-state rival, the Oregon Ducks.
- Also, in case you missed it, Jill Painter profiled former UCLA starting QB and current back-up QB Kevin Prince. The one take-away is that Prince is a class-act (much like his predecessor, Kevin Craft), not sulking or complaining about sitting on the sidelines during his senior year. It's a great read about a great Bruin and despite not being able to lead UCLA to the success we had all hoped, this kid is a true Bruin and he deserves the biggest round of applause for what he has endured (playing through injuries, inconsistent coaching, the QB carousel between him and Brehaut) in Westwood. Great kid.
- The national media is slowly taking notice of Coach Mora, with David Moore at USA Today writing up a profile on the former Washington Husky defensive back. Sadly, the national media is still using the lazy comparisons to Pete Carroll's hiring at U$C, but all-in-all, it's a good summary of Mora's career and how he is pushing this UCLA team to success (so far).
- Turning back to the game, Shaq Evans is serving as the voice of reason for UCLA, reminding his teammates that 3-0 doesn't really mean anything. Evans, having played at Notre Dame when they started hot in 2009 only to fade at the end of the year, is encouraging his teammates to ignore the noise from the media and keep focused.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to get this Saturday morning of college football started. Kick-off is slated for the middle of the day and we will have open threads up throughout the day, so keep your eyes peeled for those. For now, this will be our early morning college football open thread. Get fired up and fire away with your thoughts, comments, etc. in the open thread below.