The UCLA Bruins should be able to build upon the success of last season against the Nevada Wolf Pack in the season opener on Aug. 31 in the Rose Bowl.
UCLA finished last season with a 9-5 record. The Bruins finished first in the Pac-12 South Division for the second time in two seasons. Nevada finished 2012 with a 7-6 record. Longtime coach Chris Ault retired after 28 years, leaving new head man Brian Polian in charge.
This is the first-ever meeting between the Bruins and the Wolf Pack. Nevada is buoyed by dual-threat quarterback Cody Fajardo, who threw for 2,786 yards and 20 touchdowns a season ago. He also ran for 1,121 yards. Fajardo is even drawing comparisons to former Nevada and current San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
According to Bovado, Nevada is a 16 point underdog to UCLA.
TV Note: This game can be seen on the Pac-12 Network at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Passing: 35-of-43, 374 yards, 4 TDs
Brett Hundley should be able to carve up a poor secondary. Last season, the Wolf Pack gave up an average of 33.8 points per contest. Hundley is looking to build upon a freshman campaign in which he threw 3,745 yards and 29 touchdowns.
The departure of Johnathan Franklin will also force UCLA to become more reliant upon the passing game.
Rushing: 44 carries, 218 yards, 2 TDs
UCLA returns four starters on the offensive line. Nevada is small up front on the defensive line—averaging about 268 pounds. UCLA's starting five on the offensive line averages out to be about 305 pounds. The Bruins should be able to control the line of scrimmage with the immense size differential.
Brett Hundley: 8 carries, 42 yards, 1 TD
Jordon James: 13 carries, 74 yards
Malcolm Jones: 6 carries, 22 yards
Steven Manfro: 10 carries, 48 yards, 1 TD
Paul Perkins: 7 carries, 32 yards
Receiving: 35 catches, 374 yards, 4 TDs
Hundley will have multiple weapons to throw the ball to. Fuller's quickness in the slot might be too much for Nevada to handle. Evans and Lucien both represent options that Hundley can stretch the field vertically with, as well.
Darius Bell: 3 catches, 22 yards
Thomas Duarte: 2 catches, 18 yards
Shaq Evans: 6 catches, 98 yards, 2 touchdowns
Devin Fuller: 7 catches, 83 yards, 1 touchdown
Nate Iese: 1 catch, 7 yards
Jordon James: 2 catches, 23 yards
Who will win this game?
Devin Lucien: 4 catches, 42 yards, 1 touchdown
Steven Manfro: 3 catches, 16 yards
Logan Sweet: 1 catch, 9 yards
Jordan Payton: 6 catches, 56 yards
Defense: 4 sacks, 6 TFL, 1 INT, 31 points allowed
Nevada is an explosive offense. Fajardo is easily one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. At this point, no one really knows what the Wolf Pack will run against UCLA.
Polian did retain offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich from under Ault's regime. The pistol formation figures to still be prominent. However, Rolovich plans on expanding the pistol, while also implementing some wrinkles.
Nevada will definitely be balanced offensively. Fajardo will get his yards on the ground out of zone read plays. It's imperative, from UCLA's perspective, that the Bruins keep containment on the edge—minimizing big plays.
UCLA's secondary is a bit of a worry. All four starters are new from a season ago. There's a general lack of experience across the board. On top of that, Nevada returns the majority of a productive wide receiver corps—including Richy Turner and Brandon Wimberly. Tight end Kolby Arendse will also be one of Fajardo's top targets in the passing game.
Ka'imi Fairbairn: 6/6 on XP, 1/1 on FGs (36 yards)
Nevada will score points in this contest. Fajardo is too talented of a signal-caller not to have an impact on this game. The lack of experience in UCLA's secondary could lead to some blown coverages and big plays for the Wolf Pack.
This is not a gimme game by any stretch. In the 2012 season opener, Nevada went into Berkeley and beat the Golden Bears.
With that said, UCLA is far superior from a talent and depth standpoint. Nevada will have a tough time dealing with the Bruins' defensive line. Hundley should pick up from where he was a season ago and have a great game throwing the football.
UCLA will be 1-0, heading to a bye week in preparation for the showdown in Lincoln against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
UCLA 45, Nevada 31