The Rose Bowl is the setting for today's game between Oregon St. and UCLA. It's going to be really tough for today's loser to get back to the same place on New Year's Day! (Getty image).
Oregon St. (1-0) vs. #19 UCLA (3-0) / Rose Bowl, 12:30 PM / ABC/ESPN2 / KEJO 1240 / KEX 1190
It's finally game day, take 2, for Oregon St. The Beavers had their opener postponed, and then after upsetting Wisconsin in week 2, had another week off, for a regularly scheduled bye week. So while UCLA has played 3 games, Oregon St.'s "professional practicers" have only played one, but are embarking on 11 straight weeks of football.
Today, we will find out a lot more about whether the tremendous defensive effort Oregon St. had against Wisconsin was an isolated incident, or signs of things to come. UCLA has the nation's leading rusher in Johnathan Franklin, in an offense run by Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone, known for his accomplished passing game.
The Bruins air game is good as well, as redshirt freshman Brett Hundley has proven to be everything that he was suspected and expected to be, and has the Bruins 19th. in the nation in passing yards.
The Beavers offense will need to take another step forward to compete today, and while Oregon St. coach Mike Riley doesn't plan to throw the ball 60 times, as Houston did against UCLA, the Wisconsin game model of about a 2 to 1 pass to run ratio is a reasonable expectation for the day. The Bruins picked off 5 of those throws, so Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion will need to be accurate with the ball.
For the second year in a row, the game is the Pac-12 opener for both teams, and sets up as a "swing" game that could go either way, making it one of the biggest games of the year for both teams.
Last year, UCLA won the battle in the trenches and didn't do anything to lose the game, and as a result, picked up the 27-19 win despite a Jordan Poyer punt return for a touchdown. The Bruins made it to the Pac-12 Championship game and a bowl game, and neither would have happened without the win over the Beavers.
UCLA has won the last 2 meetings with Oregon St., both by close margins. It wasn't enough to save former coach Rick Neuheisel's job, however, and the Bruins are now led by a familiar face in the northwest, Jim Mora Jr., who was the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks prior to the coming north of Pete Carroll.
The game is on the road, and Oregon St. coach Mike Riley has only ever won 1 road game prior to October in his collegiate coaching career, against UNLV. An early season conference road win would be a landmark accomplishment for Riley and the Beavers.
A win would be another landmark accomplishment as well, as it would tie Riley with Lon Stiner for most wins in Oregon St. football program history. It would also be remarkable, as Riley has only won twice against UCLA, fewer than any of the Pac-10 opponents (excludes conference newcomers Utah and Colorado), and only once in the Rose Bowl. Overall, Oregon St. has only won 3 times against the Bruins in LA in 40 years. (Jerry Pettibone and Dennis Erickson each won once down there.)
Being a road game, its also produced the biggest viewing party in the history of Beaver Nation, with the Beaver Dam hosting the event in Reser Stadium, with the game shown of the big screen on the east end zone scoreboard. Gates open at 11 AM, with free admission for all, and everybody is invited, students and otherwise. The OSU Marching Band will even be there, complete with a pregame show. Hey-Yay! Hey-Yo!
Buildingthedam.com will be back after the game with analysis and complete coverage, plus a report from the viewing party.