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Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Jim Mora has No. 23 UCLA off to a flying start. The Bruins enter Week 3 undefeated, nationally ranked for the first time in four years and heavily favored to defeat Houston Saturday at the Rose Bowl. Mora’s next test will be to avoid a letdown and keep the high-scoring Bruins from looking past the Cougars, one week before Pac-12 Conference play begins. UCLA knocked off No. 16 Nebraska last week and has a date with Oregon State on the horizon. Houston, meanwhile, is still searching for its first win and reeling from a season-opening loss against Texas State. The Cougars were 34-point favorites in that game but lost by 17, forcing the resignation of offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt.
ABOUT HOUSTON (0-2): It’s not often when a quarterback throws for four touchdowns, 580 yards, no interceptions and still loses, but that was the case for Houston last week. The Cougars might not have quarterback Case Keenum under center any more, but their philosophy hasn’t changed. Quarterback David Piland threw 77 times in a 56-49 loss to Louisiana Tech last week, but the game really wasn’t that close. Houston scored the final 22 points of the contest in garbage time. There has been outcry on the Houston campus to play more conventionally and if results like the first two weeks continue, it could cost more than an offensive coordinator his job.
ABOUT UCLA (2-0): Everything is clicking for Mora’s squad. Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has connected on 69 percent of his passes and running back Johnathan Franklin leads the nation in rushing. Franklin has won back-to-back Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors to start the season and has begun to hear Heisman talk. Hundley injured his ankle and missed a series against Nebraska, but will start against Houston. UCLA is ranked third in the nation in total offense and has scored 85 points in its first two games.
1. Piland set an NCAA mark for most passes (77) in a game without an interception last week.
2. Franklin has 431 yards rushing in two games.
3. Houston beat UCLA 38-34 last season led by Keenum, who had a rare six years of NCAA eligibility.