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Preview: UCLA at San Diego State

The 1-0 UCLA Bruins travel south to San Diego to take on the 2-0 San Diego State Aztecs.



San Diego State Mascot - The Aztec Warrior
The Aztec Warrior - Credit Nath Rupert of Flickr

Broadcast Information:

  • 7:30 pm Eastern Time on CBS.

  • Rich Walz and Aaron Taylor are on the call.

  • Radio: UCLA - UCLA Athletics Radio (https://ucla.leanplayer.com/); San Diego State - San Diego Sports 760

What's At Stake?

UCLA travels to SDSU for the first time since 2005 and hopes to notch its 22nd all-time win against the Aztecs. The Bruins have won their last five non-conference regular season games under Chip Kelly. However, the Bruins have not won a non-conference road game since 2016 - a streak they hope to bring to an end against the Atzec's rugged defense. Despite UCLA's dominance in this series (21-1-1), San Diego State holds the current winning streak by virtue of their 24-13 victory over UCLA at the Rose Bowl in 2019. The Aztecs are 2-0 to start the season, but both games have been close and against lesser competition in Ohio and FCS Idaho State. UCLA represents a significant step up in competition for SDSU. A victory over UCLA would make SDSU an early leader to grab the Group of Five's New Year's Six Bowl Spot.



Key Players - UCLA

For UCLA, it is all about Dante Moore. The five-star freshman played significant snaps in the opener against Coastal Carolina and I would be very surprised if he didn't win the starting job with his performance. Moore was 7/12 for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns in his debut. He did throw a bad interception in the 4th quarter, but chalk that up to inexperience. His talent jumped off the screen as soon as he took the field. UCLA listed Moore, Garbers, and Schlee as "or" starters on the depth chart, but I think that's just Chip playing games.


Key Players - San Diego State

For San Diego State, linebacker Cody Moon will be key to slowing down the Bruins attack. The quick-twitch linebacker has logged 15 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pass deflection on the year. He will need to continue roaming the field to slow down UCLA. I would also like to see one of SDSU's receivers become a more prominent target in the offense. So far, Mekhi Shaw and Baylin Brooks are tied for the team lead from the receiver spot with 4 catches each. Through two games they have combined for a meager 91 yards receiving and no touchdowns. That's rough. It's no secret the Aztecs have continued to struggle on offense. If one of these two can have a breakthrough performance it could open up the offense for everyone else.


Key Matchups:

  • UCLA's rushing attack against SDSU's rush defense. UCLA averaged 4.9 yards per carry against Coastal Carolina. SDSU has allowed only 66.5 rushing yards per game on 2.8 yards per carry through two games. Chip Kelly's offense, for all its flash, is at its best when it is running the ball. San Diego State's defense has been strong against the run so far this year. The Bruins should put it to the test on Saturday.

  • UCLA's quarterbacks are against an opportunistic secondary for SDSU. The Aztecs have already intercepted six passes on the season, three against Ohio, and three against Idaho State. Garbers and Moore combined to throw three interceptions against Coastal Carolina. If the Bruins' quarterback(s) continue to be sloppy with the ball, the Aztecs have shown an ability to take it away.

Prediction

UCLA shrugs off the non-conference road game struggles they have endured the past several seasons with a victory over SDSU. The Aztecs defense is not good enough to make up for their anemic offense and UCLA gradually pulls away to win 27-10.

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