When UCLA arrives at Houston's Robertson Stadium on Saturday it will be packing more than its football equipment.
The Bruins collectively will be carrying a bit of a grudge.
The attitude stems from their view of what happened last year during the opening kickoff when these same teams met at the Rose Bowl: UCLA's Jeff Locke teed the ball up and drove it deep into Houston's side of the field, but what is considered routine ended there.
Instead of falling back into position to set up a return, the front line of Cougars sprinted forward, zeroing in on Bruins players who were looking up, following the flight of the ball.
The tactic, which has been around almost as long as pig bladders have been inflated and tossed around, is called a "tombstone" strategy.
The general consensus at UCLA is that an underdog Houston team hoped to send a message that the Bruins should expect a physical game. But it did more than that. UCLA linebacker Jared Koster sustained a broken collarbone, safety Stan McKay was left with a partially torn rotator cuff, and defensive end Iuta Tepa suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
The raucous celebration by Houston players as Bruins still lay on the ground only added insult to injury.
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel noted this week that it was "a legal play," though he added, "You could tell by their reaction on the sideline that they knew something was coming."
Kickoffs, unless they produce a touchdown, rarely linger in memories. This is an exception.
So how might UCLA respond in Saturday's rematch?
"I going to do my assignment and do what the team needs, because in the end a win is the most important thing," Koster said. But should the opportunity to get in an extra lick present itself? "That would be cool."
Bulletin boards being what they are, the glares were stronger than the words when UCLA players were asked about the kickoff this week, though one Bruins player called what Houston did "disrespectful."
McKay only recently was allowed to shelve a protective shoulder harness he had been required to wear while playing. Koster needed surgery on his shoulder and missed all but that one play last season.
Koster has reviewed video of the play "multiple times."
"It gets me pumped up," Koster said. "It reminds me of all the hard work I had to do to get back and be ready to play."
Koster said he "should have been more aware of what was coming."
Recalled McKay: "All of us were looking for the ball and their front line was in our faces. We all started dodging, but it was too late."
The mosh-pit-like celebration by the Cougars after the play is the reason Angus McClure, UCLA's special teams coach, took exception. "You're essentially hitting guys who aren't expecting to get hit," he said. "To celebrate that I thought was overzealous."
But if the intent was to intimidate, the strategy backfired. Instead, it ratcheted up UCLA's intensity. "We were angry," Koster said.
The Bruins crushed Houston, 31-13, in a game far more one-sided than the score indicated.
Houston Coach Kevin Sumlin was perplexed this week when asked about the kickoff play. "We had guys hurt in that game too," he said. "You haven't heard us grumble."
Indeed, Case Keenum, Houston's star quarterback, sustained a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter, though he wasn't hit when it happened. It occurred as he was chasing UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers, who had intercepted a pass. Later, backup quarterback Cotton Turner suffered a broken clavicle when leveled by linebacker Patrick Larimore.
The kickoff, UCLA players said, was different. "We thought it was a cheap shot," McKay said
This season, the Bruins will have an eye out.
"Oh, Coach McClure has made sure we're aware," Koster said.