Oregon St.-UCLA Preview
UCLA was disappointed not to shut out its last opponent, but the defensive effort was outstanding.
First-year coach Jim Mora was just as impressed with how Oregon State performed on that side of the ball in its last game.
The 19th-ranked Bruins will try to open 4-0 for the first time in seven years Saturday when they host a Beavers team playing just its second game of the season.
After giving up 54 points in its first two contests, UCLA (3-0) nearly recorded its first shutout since 2007 in last Saturday's 37-6 victory over Houston. The only points allowed came on an 86-yard touchdown run with 4:54 left.
UCLA picked off five passes, with Sheldon Price matching a school record with three.
"We played outstanding defense tonight except for one play," Mora said. "We're still trying to put it all together. But you take a win any time you can get it.
"We're 3-0 going into conference play and that's a real positive."
The Bruins, off to their best start since 2009, haven't been 4-0 since opening 2004 with eight straight wins.
Unlike last season, when former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was shuffling between Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut heading into the Pac-12 opener at Oregon State, redshirt freshman Brett Hundley has a firm grip on the starting quarterback job. He's thrown for 827 yards and eight TDs, leading an offense that's second in the FBS with 622.0 yards per game.
"Looks like (he's) perfect for what they're doing offensively," Beavers coach Mike Riley said.
More than half of the Bruins' offense has come on the ground, with senior Johnathan Franklin rushing for an FBS-best 180.3 yards per game.
Mora, though, is taking a cautious approach into Saturday's contest after watching Oregon State (1-0) hold then-No. 13 Wisconsin to 207 yards - 35 on the ground - in a 10-7 victory Sept. 8.
The Beavers were playing their first game of the season after a Sept. 1 matchup against FCS Nicholls State was postponed due to Hurricane Isaac.
"I don't know if I want to see more than one game the way they played against Wisconsin," Mora said. "They really looked good."
It was a vast improvement from last season when Oregon State was 101st against the run, giving up 196.8 yards per game.
"From the (defensive) line to the linebacker to the secondary everybody was making plays," said senior cornerback Jordan Poyer, who had a forced fumble and one of the team's three sacks. "That's the type of defense that we want to be this season."
After watching the Beavers dominate up front, Mora has to be even more concerned with how his offensive line will hold up. UCLA has allowed eight sacks, and senior guard Jeff Baca could miss a second straight game after suffering a possible concussion in a 36-30 victory over then-No. 16 Nebraska on Sept. 8.
"We have work to do up front," Mora said. "We are so young on the offensive line and Jeff is kind of that glue guy. ... Him not being there might have affected us, but we can't use that as an excuse. We just have to play better and we will. It's great when you can win a game and have a lot of lessons to learn."
The Beavers have room for progress after committing eight penalties and converting just 5 of 17 on third down against the Badgers, but a season-opening win is something Riley's team hasn't enjoyed since 2009.
"Confidence is such a huge thing," said Riley, who could match Lon Stiner for the most wins in program history with 74. "... I just think that this is a good game for us because we played well and hopefully built confidence going forward."
Sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion, a California native, will make his first start at the Rose Bowl after throwing for 276 yards and a 20-yard TD to Brandin Cooks versus Wisconsin.
Mannion made his first career start last Sept. 24 against UCLA, throwing for 287 yards and a score in a 27-19 loss in Corvallis.
Franklin ran for 100 yards and a TD in the Beavers' last visit to Pasadena, a 17-14 UCLA victory Nov. 6, 2010.