Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pac 12 Preview--UCLA vs. Nebraska

Easy, UCLA  fans, easy.

Remember who you beat 49-24, whose pitiful defense surrendered 643 yards. It was Rice. Last year they had arguably the worst defense in major college football. This year, as you'll see by season's end, it's pretty much the same, lame, matador outfit.

Yes it's a promising start, but it's simply too early to tell if the Bruins have flushed the Neuheisel out of their system. The biggest worry of the early Mora era is the O line, which trampled the Rice D line. That was the story of the game. The UCLA backfield was in heaven. With those monster holes and that airtight pass protection, the UCLA second string could have racked up ridiculous offense numbers. But Nebraska is a different story. It's not blessed with a killer, SEC-style defense, particularly since LB Lavonte David has graduated. But the Huskers aren't lightweights. QB Taylor Martinez is coming off a career-best, 5-TD pass, no-pick game, a 49-20 rout of  Southern Miss, a quality Conference USA team.

The Rice game was no more than a scrimmage, nothing to use as a guide to what's going to happen this season. The offense looked strong and so did the defense, in the second-half anyway. The D, which has pass-rush issues, even recorded six sacks. Nebraska is the real test. Aside from the Trojans (the Bruins luckily don't face Oregon) this may be the best team UCLA plays this season.  

Good news for UCLA. Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead is banged up, which should hurt their running game. Also, QB Martinez, who's been inconsistent, tends to follow good games with stinkers.

Heads out of the clouds, Bruin fans. Reality check. Nebraska should win. This is a young Bruin team, still learning a pro-style offense, with a questionable O line, headed by a redshirt freshman, Brett Hundley. Having them whip a perennial power which has a talented, dual-threat QB running the offense is a bit much to ask. A UCLA win possible but very unlikely. But if the Bruins can keep it close and not be stampeded, there's hope for at least a .500 season in the weak Pac12