UCLA upset Nebraska last week and goes for a 3-0 start under Coach Mora when it hosts Houston Saturday night (10:30 pm Eastern). The Bruins, who lost 38-34 at Houston last year, are currently favored by 17 points over the Cougars, who are 0-2 after losing to Louisiana Tech 56-49.
Despite the fact that Case Keenum is long gone to the NFL and the Cougars former head coach bolted to coach Texas A&M, Houston still has a good chance at beating UCLA.
Houston can pass! They are ranked fourth in the nation in passing yards at 791 total yards and 396 yards per game. The Cougars throw the ball about 60 times a game and complete over half of those throws.
But they can run fairly well too. Houston averages about 30 rushes a game and they gain about 114 yards per game. They are only ranked 92nd in the nation, so running the ball isn't their forte and it's something they do about one-third of the time.
No one can run the ball anywhere near as well as UCLA, who is second in the nation at 687 total yards and 344 yards per game. Actually, UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin leads the nation in rushing yards.
UCLA runs the ball as well as Houston passes it.
The difference is that UCLA is good in the passing game. Whereas Houston can pass but runs with a limp, UCLA sprints and throws the ball very well.
UCLA may be the No. 22 team in the nation, and Houston may have two losses already, but this game boils down to UCLA's secondary stopping Houston on several drives each half.
Houston's leading receivers are sophomore Daniel Spencer (6'0"), who averages 103 ypg and has one TD; and senior Dewayne Peace (6'0"), who averages 76 ypg and has one TD. Both are outside receivers and will be covered by cornerbacks Aaron Hester (6'1") and Sheldon Price (6'2"), who is just returning from an injury.
One thing is for sure: Size mismatch won't be an issue, but tight coverage will be.
Where: The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
When: Saturday, September 15, at 7:30 p.m. PT
Watch: Pac-12 Network (if you have it)
According to OddsShark, UCLA is an 18-point favorite, which is surprising because Houston was close in both of their games.
It just goes to show how much faith there is in this Bruins team, which has taken down its first two opponents by a combined score of 85-54.
Now, the Bruins are arguably the ones with the nation's top RB. Johnathan Franklin's offense has been unstoppable thus far.
OddsShark has the over/under at 110, which is no shocker: Each of these teams has looked offensively explosive in the first couple of weeks of the season.
UCLA is explosive on the ground and Houston is explosive in the air.
UCLA has scored 85 points in two games. Houston has scored 62 in their pair. UCLA is giving up 27 points a game and Houston surrenders 43.
There is no doubt that total points scored by both teams will hit the century mark. The only question is which team is scoring the most.
Houston Injury Report (via Oddsshark.com)
- Center Kevin Forsch (leg) is out for Saturday's game.
- Right Tackle Ralph Oragwu (leg) is out for Saturday's game.
- Wide Receiver Isaiah Sweeney (foot) is out indefinitely.
UCLA Injury Report (via Oddsshark.com)
- Quarterback Brett Hundley (ankle) is questionable for Saturday's game.
- Free Safety Dietrich Riley (neck) is out for the season.
- Defensive end Sam Tai (knee) is out for the season.
Last year's result is not the best indicator because Houston is not the same team. UCLA is the same team, but it really isn't. Mora's culture change saw to that.
In 2012, the stats clearly indicate that the Bruins are one of the best teams in the Pac-12 and could be special this year. They also say that Houston is kind of mediocre.
Houston will score a ton of points. UCLA will score two tons. Final score 66-45.