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UCLA (1-1) VS. ARIZONA (2-1) Today at the Rose Bowl,
noon, FSN Prime

Points of Issue

Two teams coming off losses to schools from Mountain West begin Pac-10 play in problem-solving mode this afternoon

September 20, 2008|Chris foster

UCLA faces Arizona in the Pacific 10 Conference opener for both teams. Times staff writer Chris Foster looks at some of the key issues -- and, oh yes, these teams have issues -- and matchups when the Bruins play the Wildcats:

Mountain Best?

Both teams last week participated in the Pac-10's recent tradition of rolling over and playing dead for Mountain West Conference opponents.

Arizona might have thought it had a pastry-like nonconference schedule this season, but one cupcake bit back. Previously winless New Mexico rushed for 221 yards in a 36-28 victory. Coach Mike Stoops' plans can't take any more hits like that.

UCLA had a week off after beating Tennessee, then took a BYU week, posing as powder-blue pylons to give the Cougars' offense a light workout.

The Bruins' mantra this week has been that was just one game. A victory allows them to go back to humming a relentlessly optimistic tune.

A loss? Well, with apologies to Bob Dylan, "Desolation Row" may be added to the soundtrack.

Willie wows 'em

The Bruins will be pleased to know Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama is out of eligibility after this season.

Tuitama engineered a 52-14 victory in 2005 that burst the Bruins' we're-a-top-10-team bubble. Last season, he passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-27 victory.

The Bruins did beat Arizona in 2006 -- when Tuitama was forced out of the game because of a concussion.

Numbers game

Today's (University of) California lottery numbers are: 75, 66, 57, 77 and 73.

Those are the numbers worn by Nick Ekbatani, Scott Glicksberg, Jake Dean, Darius Savage and Micah Kia, who are expected to form UCLA's starting offensive line.

The less-than-Mega number is: 38 -- the number of net yards rushing the Bruins have this season.

Asked whether he had ever gone into the third game of a season unsure who his best five linemen were, Coach Rick Neuheisel said: "We've been through a great deal, in terms of injuries and things like that. There are no excuses, but this season has required doing things that you're not used to doing. All we can do is keep plugging away."

We'll take that as a "no."

Gift-wrapped

Both teams were able to jump-start impressive scoring drives last week . . . for their opponents.

UCLA turned the ball over four times against Brigham Young, leading to three touchdowns.

Arizona turned the ball over five times against New Mexico, leading to four field goals.

There's a catch

Arizona wide receiver Mike Thomas is 48 catches shy of becoming the Pac-10's all-time leader in receptions. Wildcats tight end Rob Gronkowski is back to full strength after being limited by an illness.

A veteran quarterback throwing to a sure-handed wide receiver and dangerous tight end . . . where have the Bruins seen that before?

That's right, last week in Provo, Utah.

DeWayne Walker's defense has already spent an eternity on the field this season and will again be asked to keep the score manageable.

42-0 at halftime? Not manageable.

--

By the numbers

*--* UCLA CATEGORY ARIZ. 13.5 Scoring 46.3 41.5 Points given up 17.3 244.5 Passing off. 292.0 19.0 Rushing off. 161.7 263.5 Total offense 453.7 263.0 Passing def. 110.7 180.5 Rushing def. 119.7 443.5 Total defense 230.3 *--*

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