The Texas Longhorns may be No. 24 in the nation according to the AP poll, but if they are going to stay in the Top 25, they have some things to figure out, including their quarterback situation.
The Longhorns lock horns with the UCLA Bruins in Week 3 of the young college football season on Saturday, and both have plenty to play for.
The Longhorns benched their starting quarterback, Garrett Gilbert, last week after he started off 2-for-8 with two interceptions against BYU. Colt McCoy's younger brother Case will get the start for the Longhorns this time around after showing some promise in Week 2.
As for the Bruins, this is a team trying to simply not be ignored in college football at this point. A once-proud football program, UCLA needs a signature win badly, not to mention Coach Rick Neuheisel, who is fighting for his job at this point.
Where: Rose Bowl
When: Saturday, Sept. 17, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Listen: KCTC 1320
Betting Line: Texas -4
Who will win on Saturday?
Key Storyline: UCLA Running Game vs. Texas Defense
The UCLA Bruins are largely based on their running game, which has gotten some impressive performances to start from junior Johnathan Franklin and senior Derrick Coleman. But Texas shut down the running game of BYU last week and has some pieces on the defense that could make things defense.
Given the murky quarterback situation the Bruins have, it's going to be important for the running game to get off to a strong start of they have any chance of defeating the Longhorns.
Who Might Not Play for Texas
Chet Moss, Questionable
DeMarco Cobbs, Out Indefinitely
Christian Scott, Eligible Oct. 1 (Suspension)
Who Might Not Play for UCLA
Kai Maiava, Probable
Glenn Love, Questionable
Kevin Prince, Questionable
Seali'i Epenesa, Questionable
Damien Thigpen, Questionable
Anthony Jefferson, Out Indefinitely
Jamie Graham, Out
Brett Hundley, Out
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
The Longhorns are teetering on the edge of the Top 25 rankings and some believe they don't even believe there. A loss to the Bruins would cripple the program's BCS chances, while a win would keep them in line with their bowl aspirations.
As for the Bruins, they aren't likely to figure into the BCS or Top 25 discussion this season, but the biggest thing for them right now is making progress and distancing themselves from irrelevancy. The Texans may be their best chance of winning against a Top-25 team all season long. A win would be huge for the program's confidence.
What They're Saying:
"When Case came in, he played a real leadership role for us. He immediately came into the huddle and was pumping us up and telling us to trust him, and that he was going to lead us down and deliver a victory. I think there was just a lot of energy he brought in."
Taking over after a dismal performance from Gilbert, McCoy showed flashes of becoming Texas' quarterback for the rest of the season. He went 7-for-8 and pumped life into the Longhorns, and there's no questions Gilbert's time under center may be coming to a close.
"We had a chance to blink and we didn't. "We found a way to play well when we had to. We're going to take away something from that."
After a season-opening loss to Houston, UCLA bounced back and defeated San Jose State in Week 2. And when you think about it, they lost by four points to an explosive offense led by Case Keenum. The Week 1 loss wasn't all bad.
Texas Player to Watch: Keenan Robinson
Keenan Robinson could be a first-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft after this season. He's impressed a lot of people so far, and he can absolutely fly to the ball. With 13 tackles in two games thus far, Robinson is a big part of the Longhorns' rush defense.
UCLA Player to Watch: Johnathan Franklin/Derrick Coleman
Both Franklin and Coleman have been fun to watch so far this season. Coleman had a big game against San Jose State, rushing for 135 yards—all in the second half—and scampering for a 24-yard touchdown. The Bruins will be leaning heavily on this tandem all season long, regardless of who starts at quarterback.
Key Matchup: Keenan Robinson vs. Johnathan Franklin/Derrick Coleman
These are the stars of their respective teams. Just so happens, they will be pitted against each other. Robinson will be chasing Franklin and Coleman around throughout Week 3, and if the two running backs can gain an edge and get past Robinson, they could actually make a game of this.
On the Hot Seat: Rick Neuheisel
Rick Neuheisel, who was the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens from 2005-2007, is in his fourth season with the Bruins and under a lot of pressure, given he has a 16-23 record with the team. The Bruins can either take a step forward this season, or Neuheisel can pack his bags. He's going to have a lot of eyes on him this season.
Prediction: Texas 20, UCLA 17