Here's the million dollar question for the week: which UCLA team went to Tempe? The high-flying offensive machine that steam-rolled through Rice, Nebraska, and Houston? Or the mediocre, uninspired vanilla choke-job that fell to Oregon State and went to Berkeley and got spanked? The Bruins stand at 5-2 (having lost to a beatable Oregon State squad 27-20 at the Rose Bowl, and the getting bent over by one of the worst Cal teams in recent memory), and instead of heading into the hard stretch of the schedule at 7-0 and bowl-eligible, the Bruins will have to do some work.
Like the Bruins, Arizona State comes into today's game at 5-2, having picked up their second loss to a team they were supposed to lose to: falling 43-21 to #2-ranked Oregon. The pressure is on both Mora and Graham to produce immediately, but the talent advantage falls well for UCLA, especially given Mora faces an offense that his own offensive coordinator knows intimately: their should be no excuse for UCLA struggling to stop Arizona State. Let's see if Mora can get the Bruins going in the back-half of the season. With that, let's turn to the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Starting with the game, Sports Illustrated has a game preview here, with some quotes from Arizona-native QB Brett Hundley, who will be starting his first game in his home state as UCLA's QB. Key though are quotes from ASU head coach Todd Graham, who is well aware that his season's fate depends on picking up a win over UCLA today.
- In case you missed it, WWL's Peter Yoon has quotes from Mora re: the bye week and reversing UCLA's 0-6 trend (since 2001) in road games following a bye week. If we're going to talk about culture change and bringing UCLA back to where it needs to be, this game will be a pretty strong indicator if this UCLA team can fight through adversity and get itself back to top-gear or if it will crumble and stumble down the stretch as we've become accustomed to seeing.
- Likewise, the Orange County Register has a game preview, focusing in on quotes from Andrew Abbott (who really should be starting at CB instead of one of the two Toast Twins), and on how Oregon slashed the Sun Devils for over 300 yards on the ground last week, utilizing the same kind of no-huddle, spread attack UCLA is trying to install this season. With Jet Ski lining up in the back-field, Mazzone better feed the rock to the Mayor and let him run down Gaston Green's school career rushing yard mark today.
- Turning back to the beginning of the week, new UCLA beat writer (I have no clue why the morons running the Daily News replaced the very-good Miguel Melendez) Jack Wang focused in on the importance of the stretch run for UCLA, focusing on quotes from QB Brett Hundley about how the balance of the schedule has to be mentally treated like a playoff-run, who is also excited to be playing in front of his home-town fans in the Blue and Gold.
- Finally, Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News has some interesting picks for this week's slate of games, including an upset win for Arizona over the hated Trojans. And Wilner is going with the Vegas underdog (6.5 points) in our game: us. Wilner notes the key will be the use of Jet Ski against a beat-up ASU defensive line. Let's see if Mora and Mazzone got the memo.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to get this Saturday morning of college football started. Kick-off is slated for noon PT, and we will have our usual set of gamethreads up for the game. For now, this will be our morning college football open thread. Get fired up and fire away with your thoughts, comments, etc. in the open thread below.