I-A College Football News
Bruins host Cougars in non-league affair
Sep 5, 2007, 16:08 GMT
Los Angeles, CA - For the second time in as many games, the BYU Cougars get another crack at a member of the Pac-10 Conference when the team drops in on 13th-ranked UCLA in Pasadena this weekend.
The Cougars, who will be on the road again next weekend versus Tulsa before opening up Mountain West Conference play versus Air Force in Provo, extended the nation's second longest winning streak to 11 games by defeating the Arizona Wildcats at home by a score of 20-7. The meeting could have ended in a shutout for BYU, which had held Arizona scoreless for the first 59 minutes of action. The team's win streak is three behind Boise State as both programs enter action this week.
As for the Bruins, they began their Pac-10 Conference schedule with a 45-17 thrashing of Stanford on the road last week. Aside from BYU, UCLA also has Utah and Notre Dame as non-conference opponents in 2007.
In terms of the all-time series between these two squads, UCLA has won all but one of the previous seven meetings, but the teams have not squared off since the Bruins captured a 23-9 decision in Provo back in 1995. The last time the teams collided at the Rose Bowl was in 1993 when UCLA posted a 68-14 decision, marking the squad's second-highest point total in history. The Bruins sacked BYU quarterbacks a school-record 11 times, intercepted three balls and forced three fumbles in the onslaught.
Stepping into the prestigious role of BYU quarterback, Max Hall maintained a high level of excellence, as he converted 26-of-39 passes, for 288 yards and two touchdowns in his first action at the collegiate level. Redshirt freshman running back Harvey Unga also carried his fair share of the weight by gaining a team-high 68 yards on 15 carries. Unga also provided Hall with a safe outlet coming out of the backfield, catching nine balls for 127 yards. Unga showed his diversity by scoring once on a pass reception and once on an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter to put the decision on ice. With John Beck at the helm last season the Cougars ranked first in the conference in passing offense (323.5 ypg) and first in total offense (465.6 ypg), while placing fifth in the entire nation in scoring with 36.8 ppg. While the offense won't reach those sort of numbers this season, it will still be a productive unit.
Once it became obvious that the front line defense for the Cougars was going to get upfield against Arizona, the Wildcats had to give up running the ball. Bryan Kehl came up with a team-high 12 tackles for the Cougars, while Jan Jorgensen and Ian Dulan both recorded a sack for the unit. While the Cougars did pick up the win, the team failed to force a turnover, something that is unusual considering the program was fourth in the nation last season in turnover margin with a +1.08 in that department. One of the areas that head coach Bronco Mendenhall and the rest of the staff has to work on this season is getting into the backfield and disrupting plays, after the team finished sixth in the MWC in sacks (1.85 per game) and fifth in the league in TFLs (5.31) in 2006.
UCLA completely dominated Stanford on the road last week, rolling up not only 338 yards rushing but also another 286 yards through the air. With everything clicking, the Bruins out-gained the Cardinal by 241 yards despite running six fewer plays from scrimmage, Kahlil Bell shouldered a good portion of the rushing load with his career-high 195 yards on 19 carries. Ben Olson completed 55.2 percent of his passes (16-of-29), leading to a career-high five touchdowns, with Brandon Breazell posting career bests with six catches for 111 yards and a score. Although he had just two catches, Joe Cowan made it into the end zone twice and finished with 96 yards. Back in the saddle after sitting out much of 2006 with a knee injury, Olson is ready to show what has made him such a huge prospect in the UCLA program and why the team is ranked so high at the moment.
Stanford tried to run the ball against the Bruins, but once the score got out of hand it was clear that a different tact was required. As a result, UCLA left the Cardinal with a mere 52 yards rushing on 26 attempts, partly because the visitors came up with four sacks, resulting in a loss of 48 yards. Two of those sacks were credited to Korey Bosworth, while Trey Brown added one quarterback takedown, one forced fumble and four pass breakups. Reggie Carter paced the group with his career-high 10 tackles, with two TFLs. Limiting the Cardinal to so few yards on the ground is nothing new for UCLA after the team held 2006 opponents to just 91.1 ypg rushing, tops in the Pac-10 and ninth in the nation. Getting a huge push up front is critical to the team's success, especially after the Bruins paced the conference and placed fifth in the country in TFLs with almost eight per game a year ago. Just as important, UCLA also placed sixth nationally in sacks with just over three per contest.
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