UCLA linebacker Reggie Carter couldn't hide his glee thinking about playing Stanford on Saturday in Palo Alto.
"Physical, physical, physical," Carter said. "I've been waiting for a game like this again. Playing Tennessee was great, but then Kansas State came in and started hitting us with that crazy spread stuff.
"Stanford plays old-fashioned, downhill football. They have a downhill back, and an aggressive offensive line. I'm looking forward to this game.
"I'm not going to trash talk. They say they're physical. I'm not going to back down. I'm going to be ready and waiting for them."
Someday, Carter may overcome his shyness, but his eagerness is understandable.
The Bruins are ranked ninth nationally against the run. Stanford, with 235-pound Toby Gerhart averaging 129 yards rushing behind a line that averages 297 pounds, is 11th nationally in rushing offense.
The Bruins had a soft-as-butter-from-the-microwave reputation in recent years, but that perception does not seem to fit this team.
"We know these guys are runners," said UCLA defensive end Korey Bosworth. "That's what they say, their bread and butter is that power play. As far as I can tell, we're not too bad against the run. When we get a team that runs the ball, I really look forward to it."
Tennessee tried and managed 115 yards -- but only 2.6 yards per carry. On a fourth-and-two play at the UCLA one-yard line, the Volunteers were stuffed short with the game on the line. Opponents are averaging only 2.3 yards a carry against the Bruins in three games.
Stanford rolled up 321 yards rushing last week in a 34-14 victory against Washington, with Gerhart getting 200 yards and averaging 7.4 a carry.
So there is a push-comes-to-shove expectation going in to the game.
Stanford gained 250 yards rushing, 138 by Gerhart, against UCLA last season. But the Bruins pulled off a come-from-behind 23-20 victory in part because Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh decided that getting one yard on fourth and one at the UCLA 11 was too much to ask of Gerhart.
Stanford settled for a field goal with two minutes left. UCLA then drove down the field for the winning touchdown.
"This was a gut-check game last season," said UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel. "I expect nothing less today."
Malcolm in the middle
Malcolm Jones, a running back recruit from Westlake Village Oaks Christian, is expected to be at the game today. He is on his official visit to Stanford.
Jones, who is 6 feet 1, 210 pounds, has narrowed his choices to UCLA and Stanford. He is rated fifth among running backs nationally according to Rivals.com.
Carter has noticed that the UCLA bandwagon still has plenty of room.
There are three Pacific 10 Conference teams in the Associated Press top 25 media poll, but the Bruins -- the league's only undefeated team -- aren't one of them.
"They don't like us too much," Carter said of the media. "They're saying we're getting some attention now, but the only attention I'm getting is from the people back home who are proud of me."
UCLA has won five consecutive games against the Cardinal, and 12 of the last 16.
But that, UCLA senior tight end Logan Paulsen says, is misleading.
"Stanford is not the team it was a few years ago," Paulsen said. "That game last year was tough. It was the about the most physical game we had last year."