The Bruins return to the Rose Bowl. Wear Blue! (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Alright folks, it's finally Saturday morning and it's time for our Bruins to take on their first big test of the Jim Mora era, as the #16-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers are set to invade the Rose Bowl. Kick-off is set for 4:30 p.m. PT, and for those of you unable to make it to the Rose Bowl, it will be televised on Fox. Our Bruins have taken a step in the right direction, beating a hapless Rice team last week in Houston 49-24. In years past, the Bruins, not able to put the road game away in the first half, would have wilted and collapsed on the road; instead, we saw smart defensive adjustments and a second half where UCLA locked Rice down and pushed ahead on the offensive side of the ball. Today though, the Bruins won't face one of college football's weakest teams, but a perennial national power with its sights on a BCS bowl bid. It's Jim Mora's job to end that Husker dream today, so let's see if he and our Bruins can get it done.
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:
- Beginning with our new favorite UCLA beat writer, Miguel Melendez (who took over for the very good Jon Gold at Inside UCLA), has his UCLA vs. Nebraska game day notes and thoughts posted. Also, for those of you unable to watch the game, for whatever reason, you can follow the game here on BN in our thread and also Miguel will be tweeting from the Rose Bowl at @MelendezSports, so feel free to follow him with the BN game thread.
- Over at the San Jose Mercury News, Jon Wilner thinks that UCLA has the best chance of the Pac-12 teams facing ranked opponents (Washington faces #3-ranked LSU, Oregon St. takes on #13-ranked Wisconsin, and Arizona takes on #18-ranked Oklahoma State) to pull the upset, noting that our line is only +4.5, and that we're playing at home in the Rose Bowl. But, Wilner expects Nebraska to cover the spread because he thinks our inexperience at QB will end up making the difference. In other words, Brett Hundley will be key: he'll need to manage the game well and play mistake-free football against a very good Husker defense.
- On the other hand, Chip Patterson at CBS Sports, who has the line at +5 against the Bruins, is picking UCLA to pull off the upset, noting that knee injury to Nebraska starting RB Rex Burkhead (MCL sprain) will make the difference, as compared to the Bruins, who will have both Jet Ski and Hundley able to make plays on the ground.
- In case you missed it, ESPN profiled UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr this past week, taking note of his outstanding performance against Rice in his first game on the defensive side of the ball since high school. Best of all, despite getting the love from all corners of BN for his performance against Rice, the young man wasn't satisfied with his performance, saying that his expectations are very high and that he didn't meet all of those expectations against Rice. Look out folks, this kid has the drive to become scary-good as an OLB. Got to love that attitude.
- For the Huskers, their junior WR Quincy Enunwa is extra motivated to put on a big-game, playing in front of a home crowd at the Rose Bowl. Enunwa, from Moreno Valley, did not get a lot of recruiting love from West Coast schools coming out of Rancho Verde High School. Following his six catches for 70 yards performance last week, Enunwa is fired up for his homecoming, so Aaron Hester or Sheldon Price better step up their game to shut down this very-motivated Cornhusker WR. If they can't, we expect Jim Mora to go to very talented freshmen Marcus Rios and Ishmael Adams.
- Finally, in the "in case you missed it" category, UCLA-commit OL Erik Bunte is transferring from Santa Margarita HS to Mission Viejo HS. Bunte told Scout.com that he felt that his relationship with the coaching staff at Santa Margarita had changed and that he wouldn't be able to reach his full potential there. Despite jumping ship on the high school level, the talented OL was quick to re-affirm his commitment to UCLA, noting that he is still 100% committed to the Bruins. Let's hope Bunte has a strong, injury-free season for Mission Viejo and wish him luck in his last year of HS football.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to get this Saturday morning of college football started. Kick-off is slated for this afternoon 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.