This weekend's Pac-12 showdown between the UCLA Bruins (6-2, 3-2) and the Arizona Wildcats (5-3, 2-3) has much larger implications than anyone predicted in the preseason.
After all, both teams have new coaches, a first-year starter at quarterback and a recent history of poor performance. But apparently that's the new formula for success, as both squads are ranked in the AP poll and the Wildcats have even managed to break into the BCS standings.
The Bruins control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South, while the Wildcats will need USC to lose at least one more game in conference (which seems likely as the Trojans still face Oregon, ASU and UCLA).
With the big game looming just two days away, let's take a look at the key injuries on the Bruins' sideline:
WR Devin Lucien
In perhaps the most important injury news for UCLA, wide receiver Devin Lucien has been listed as probable and is expected to return against Arizona on Saturday.
The standout redshirt freshman broke his collar bone on Sept. 29 at Colorado and was projected to miss the remainder of the regular season. His injury was a major setback for the Bruins' receiving corps, which has battled depth issues in 2012.
But in light of his speedy recovery, it seems Jim Mora & Co. have caught a big break. If Lucien can suit up on Saturday, it will provide a huge boost to the UCLA offense.
Prior to his injury, Lucien had hauled in 10 catches for 188 yards. If he is full-speed this weekend, look for Lucien to have a solid day against the porous Wildcat defense.
WR Darius Bell
While the unexpected return of Devin Lucien was a pleasant surprise for UCLA, the continued absence of Darius Bell is quite the opposite.
The redshirt junior slotback is listed as doubtful for Saturday's matchup with Arizona, which would mark his third-consecutive missed game.
Bell injured his shoulder and ribs on Oct. 6 at California when he took a big hit on a crossing-route over the middle. The injury was initially thought to be minor, but nagging soreness in his ribs has kept Bell sidelined.
Edit: As of Friday (Nov. 2), Darius Bell has been listed as probable and is expected to play against Arizona. The return of Lucien and Bell could prove pivotal for the Bruins' offensive success.
OL Simon Goines
True freshman offensive lineman Simon Goines has battled injury in recent weeks, exiting the Utah and Arizona State games with pain in his left knee.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the 6'7", 324-pound tackle had an MRI exam on Sunday which showed no serious damage. As such, Goines is expected to play this weekend versus the Wildcats.
UCLA's offensive line has been one of the least stable units in 2012, so the health of Goines is enormously important. If he can fight through the entire game on Saturday, QB Brett Hundley and the Bruin offense will have a much better chance to move the ball.
OL Brett Downey
Offensive tackle Brett Downey is not a starter on the UCLA O-line, but he has provided nice depth so far this season.
As of today, Downey is listed as questionable for the tilt with Arizona, though his ailment is undisclosed. If the 6'6", 305-pound redshirt senior can't go on Saturday, the experience behind Simon Goines will be very limited.
For more information on NCAA college football injuries, follow this link to the weekly USA Today report.