San Diego State Aztecs at UCLA Bruins
College Football: Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009, 7:30 PM EST
The Line: UCLA -19
It's year two of the Rick Neuheisal regime at UCLA and they get it started against in better shape than last season. 2008 was an injury-riddled season for the Bruins, particularly at QB, which is where a Norm Chow coached offense revolves around.
This game will mark the return of QB Kevin Prince, who has been out of action for two years with a knee injury. While he's been around the program for a while, he's still new to the college game and it's going to be somewhat of a learning process.
In any event, we should see a sharp improvement at the position from last year's starter Kevin Craft. Craft had 21 interceptions, six which were returned for touchdowns.
Prince has all the right tools and the Bruins have 16 returning starters—10 more than they had a year ago. The running backs vastly improved and are primarily bruising types who fit Chow's scheme.
The Bruins have a fairly solid defense and one of the best players in the country in Brian Price on the defensive line. The rest of the defensive line though, will need to step it up, and they certainly have the potential to do so. UCLA, as always, is loaded with athletes. Consequently so, their secondary is successfully loaded with speed and athleticism.
San Diego State's new head coach, Brady Hoke, takes over a team who wasn't very good last year (2-10). While Hoke worked wonders at Ball State, he has his work cut out for him in the early going at SDSU, as he hasn't been left with a heck of a lot.
If there is a strong point for the Aztecs, it's their offense and QB Ryan Lindley, who while unspectacular, is efficient. He'll have a lot of players who have plenty of room for improvement around him, which in turn, could make for some long games and tough sledding.
Hoke needs to change the attitude and outlook at San Diego State, and like all good coaches, he has some fantastic coordinators. However, I just don't think the coaching staff has the players to work with. I am not a fan of the 3-3-5 defense that Rocky Long brings to the table, but he's had success with it in the past.
San Diego State is 1-9 against the spread in their last 10 games against Pac-10 teams and 1-4 against the number in their last five on the road. UCLA is 10-3 against the spread Vs. Mountain West teams and 10-4 against the spread in their last 14 as a home favorite. UCLA has covered the last four times these two have met.
I think Brady Hoke has as good of a chance of turning around SDSU as anyone but his situation reminds me of June Jones taking the SMU job last year. He has a lot of work ahead of him and no instant answers.
I think Neuheisal has to improve on last year's 4-8 record for recruiting and to get his team and fan base confident in him again. I smell a blow out.
Mitch's Pick: UCLA -19