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What you need to know: BYU vs UCLA Preview

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The battle in the Rose Bowl will feature two top 20 teams from the west.

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

The History

The BYU Cougars and UCLA Bruins will meet for the 11th time on Saturday night. The series has been quite lopsided in favor of the Bruins. With seven wins in the first 10 games in the series, the Bruins have averaged just over 27 points a game compared to 22 for the Cougars. In away games the Cougars are 1-3 but the deficit becomes much wider as BYU sticks close to their 22 points a game, but the Bruins jump up to 39 points per game. Hitting the road means that the Cougars will need to play their best ball against a top 10 team in their own house.

Provo, UT 2008 (59-0)

Behind the arm of Max Hall, and a dominating defensive performance, the 16th ranked Cougars ruined the homecoming for the Bruins offensive coordinator Norm Chow. In two and a half quarters Hall completed 27 of 35 attempts for 271 yards and six touchdowns. Austin Collie, Dennis Pita, and Harvey Unga all recorded two touchdowns apiece while Michael Reed recorded one. Of the 42 points recorded in the first half, 35 of them came in the second quarter. The Bruins tried late to ruin the shutout but after driving 62 yards the field goal attempt went wide giving the Cougars their 59-0 win.

Pasadena, CA 2007 (27-17)

Riding an 11 game win streak dating back to the 2006 season, the Cougars faced off against the Bruins in the storied Rose Bowl. Even after racking up 435 yards of offense and only allowing 236 yards to the Bruins, the Cougars walked out with only 17 points and a loss. The bruins jumped out to a 20-0 lead after a two field goals, a Max Hall interception returned for a touchdown, and a rushing touchdown for Kahlil Bell. The second field goal came under the shadow of controversy as a ruled fumble by Vic So'oto was not overturned despite the replay showing his knee was down. The Cougars finally lit up the scoreboard with a late field goal in the first half. In the second half Hall found Austin Collie for a one yard touchdown  for the Cougars first touchdown. After an ensuing interception the Cougars pulled within three on another Hall to Collie connection but that was as close as they would get. After another controversial call, a pass interference on BYU when the play clock had already expired, the Bruins sealed the game with a three yard touchdown run for the 27-17 win.

The Outlook

After another Mangum Miracle the Cougars are optimistic and excited to pay a visit to the Rose Bowl on Saturday. The thrilling comeback win against Boise State has given the players and fans confidence that the Cougars can at least make it a game. Fans are hoping that the Magic travels west with the team and any freshman mistakes by Tanner Mangum will be harmless.

The Positives

The defense played outstanding on Saturday and the majority of the credit should go to that side of the ball. Of course there were a few breakdowns but without the defense the game very easily could have turned into a copy of the game in Boise last year. The Cougars enjoyed their time in the backfield and kept the  Broncos rushing game to less than 70 yards for the game. If the defense can take advantage of another freshman quarterback at UCLA, the Cougars could find themselves in a good battle.

The Negatives

Although the Cougars offense put up 28 points and out gained the Broncos on the ground and through the air, the lack of a good rushing game is still a concern. At halftime the Cougars had -14 yards on the ground. Adam Hine stepped up in the fourth quarter but in order for the Cougars to have success, they will need to establish the run much earlier in the game.

The Match-up

As is the case in many games, this game will be determined in the trenches. This particular match-up will fun to watch as an aggressive front seven for the Cougars will look to find any weakness in the Bruins offensive line. The Bruins line has helped their offense to over 500 yards offense in each of their first two games and will provide a stiff test for Bronson Kaufusi and company. The Cougars have made themselves at home in the opponents backfield this season and so you can bet that Bronco will be creative in finding ways for the Cougars to be succesful.

The Keys to Watch

When the Bruins have the ball:

Watch for the Bruins to run a balanced offense as they work to establish their offense early. So far this season the Bruins have passed the ball 88 times and have rushed the ball 81 times. Watch for Josh Rosen to spread the ball around to his receivers as six receivers have at least five catches on the year. Watch for running back Paul Perkins to take the majority of the rush attempts as he already has almost half. Watch for the Cougars to do all that they can to rattle Rosen as they throw different looks at the young quarterback. Rosen only has one interception on the year and so his line will look to give him time to throw the ball and so watch for the Cougar linebackers to rush the throws and push him out of his comfort zone.

When BYU has the ball:

Watch for the Cougars to continue to try and establish the run game, and not to give up if it isn't working right away. Mangum will need the offensive line to open holes for the running backs if he wants any chance at being successful in the passing game. Watch for Adam Hine to be given a few more chances to rush the ball as he earned his keep in the fourth quarter against Boise State. Watch for the Bruins to stack the box and play to take away the run early, forcing Mangum into passing situations and then trying to rattle him. The Bruins defense has only allowed 19 points on the year, so Mangum and company better be ready to face another solid defense.

Interesting Tidbit

Unbeknownst to most people around the country the UCLA Bruins were not always the ferocious bruin that is depicted today. In fact, up until 1924 the UCLA students were known as Cubs. Grizzlies became the new mascot but this lasted only two years before it was changed due to a conflict when they became members of the Pacific Coast Conference. At that time UCLA worked with UC Berkeley, who was using both Bears and Bruins at the time, to free up the name Bruins for UCLA to use. Over the years the mascots went from live bears to the costumed bear in the 1960's. To read about the history of the mascots or other traditions, take a look at the UCLA Alumni site.

Next Meeting

The UCLA Bruins and BYU Cougars will meet once again in 2016 on September 17th in Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

The Broadcasting Details

Time: 8:30 pm MDT

Where: Rose Bowl-Pasadena, CA

TV: Fox Sports 1

Radio(BYU): KSL 1160 AM/102.7 FM, BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143

Listen Live via Internet(KSL): Click Here

Radio Links (Cal): Click Here