Now that the UCLA athletic department, the city of Pasadena, and the quality air control people have given the OK for the UCLA-San Diego State game to be played, in light of the devastating Station Fire that has burned over 20 miles of the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles this week, I feel it's safe for me to give a preview of the game, and how I think the Bruins will do.
The San Diego State Aztecs' football program has been in disarray the past few years, going 2-10 last year and having gone through several coaches this decade. It has been known more for having Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn as its baseball coach and having the overall MLB No. 1 pick in Stephen Strasbourg than any gridiron success.
Marshall Faulk has become a distant memory in San Diego.
The Aztecs are trying to right the ship this season, hiring Brady Hoke from Ball State as its coach, after leading the Cardinals to a 12-1 record in 2008.
Hoke, along with new offensive coordinator Al Borges and new defensive coordinator Rocky Long, are seeking to change the Aztecs' culture and instill a tougher attitude in their players.
Though their approach may well be fruitful in the long run, there is one ingredient missing from their formula as far as any immediate progress: Talent.
Simply put, San Diego State does not have the personnel to make any significant impact in the Western Athletic Conference this season.
That is why although the Aztecs will go after the Bruins in the Rose Bowl this Saturday, UCLA has too much talent for Bruin fans to worry about the Aztecs pulling off an upset; considering the Bruins' recent fortunes, that is a rare thing to say.
The Bruin offense, though they will have a new quarterback in Kevin Prince and a whole new offensive line, should be OK, and UCLA's defense, led by Alterraun Verner, Reggie Carter, and All-American Brian Price, will make it a long day for San Diego State.
And the firefighters that have worked so hard to contain what has turned out to be the largest wildfire in the history of Los Angeles should enjoy the game; they will be able to attend the game free of charge.
Here's what I think the score will be:
UCLA Bruins 27, San Diego State Aztecs 10.
Being that the Bruins are a 19 1/2 point favorite, many people are expecting them to cover the spread. I just want a nice, comfortable win, though.
And I believe UCLA will achieve just that.