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UCLA FOOTBALL

UCLA vs. New Mexico State: Battering should be included

Bruins are 42 1/2-point favorites to beat Aggies at Rose Bowl; Brett Hundley's Heisman prospects appear more interesting than the game.

September 20, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has passed for 558 yards and ran for another 124 while throwing five touchdown passes and scoring two rushing through two games for the Bruins.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has passed for 558 yards and ran for another… (Eric Francis / Getty Images )

UCLA plays New Mexico State at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night and the Bruins are 42 1/2-point favorites. Staff writer Chris Foster examines the story lines:

Sand kicking

UCLA has mixed results recently against teams from non-Bowl Championship Series conferences. The Bruins have a 7-5 record against such teams since 2007.

However, those losses were to quality football programs — Houston (2011), Brigham Young (2008 and 2007), Fresno State (2008) and Utah (2007). New Mexico State does not fall into that category.

The Bruins are 3-0 in these games since Jim Mora was hired as coach, and none has been close. UCLA beat Nevada, 58-20, to open this season, and walloped Rice, 49-24, and Houston, 37-6, last season.

The biggest issue for UCLA is to come away from this game healthy. Actually, it has already been costly: UCLA will pay the Aggies $550,000 for their troubles.

Hundley watch

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has yet to gain traction for a Heisman Trophy run. A Pac-12 quarterback does top ESPN's latest "Heisman Watch" list, but it is Oregon's Marcus Mariota.

Hundley is tied for ninth with one fifth-place vote.

There are those who are promoting him.

A Twitter site, said to be run by three University of Miami students, was created: @hundleyforheisman. Hundley has nearly twice as many pass completions as the site had followers, 38-20, Friday morning.

There is also a Facebook site: Brett Hundley For Heisman. It had 547 "likes" Friday morning.

Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is tied with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel for second on ESPN's list. The Tajh Boyd For Heisman Facebook site had 11,274 "likes."

Hundley has put up his best numbers on the field, with 558 yards passing and 124 rushing in two games. He has thrown for five touchdowns and run for two.

This game could be a stat-fest, but it is unlikely Hundley will play enough to roll up numbers big enough to overcome the 10:30 p.m. start for Eastern time zone voters.

Job training

New Mexico State could help further the education of UCLA's freshmen, who need all the experience they can get.

Defensive ends Eddie Vanderdoes and Kylie Fitts and nose tackle Kenny Clark will be needed more as the season wears on. The Bruins would like to be able to rotate as many defensive linemen as possible against up-tempo Pac-12 Conference opponents.

Outside linebacker Myles Jack moved into a starting spot against Nebraska and linebacker Deon Hollins got significant playing time.

On offense, Alex Redmond starts at guard and Caleb Benenoch, who can play guard and tackle, could see plenty of action.

Pasquale remembered

This is the first home game for UCLA since the death of receiver Nick Pasquale.

His No. 36 will be painted on the Rose Bowl turf for the remainder of the season. UCLA will hand out 30,000 Pasquale towels to fans. Adidas has donated Pasquale T-shirts to sell, with all proceeds going to the Nick Pasquale Foundation (nickpasqualefoundation.com).

UCLA wants to continue selling shirts in its bookstore and online. More shirts will be made when the Adidas shirts run out, with 40% of the proceeds going to the Pasquale Foundation.

After a pregame moment of silence, Mora said he wants fans to "go nuts for Nick."

About those Aggies

New Mexico State hasn't had a winning season since 2002, has a 14-game losing streak, and has a defense that is giving up 47.3 points per game, most in the nation.

Now pile on a quarterback controversy.

King Davis III, a freshman, has replaced senior Andrew McDonald.

Chris.foster@latimes.com

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