UCLA is one of only two teams in the Pac-12 not playing a power conference opponent on its nonconference schedule in 2023. However, the Bruins should nevertheless get a tough test with their Week 2 trip to San Diego State. After derailing a strong Coastal Carolina squad known for its offense in last week's 27-13 win, UCLA will see an Aztec team with a strong defensive reputation.
The Aztecs are off to a 2-0 start with victories over Ohio and Idaho State and have forced six turnovers already during the young season. San Diego State has finished .500 or better in 13 straight seasons and taken down its share of Pac-12 foes, including UCLA in 2019. SDSU is again expected to be in the Mountain West title hunt and figures to stand tall on its home field against the visiting Bruins.
For UCLA, the game marks another opportunity for the Bruins to show they belong in the conversation with presumed Pac-12 title contenders. They finished last season ranked No. 18 in the College Football Playoff Rankings but were voted sixth in this year's preseason Pac-12 media poll after the departure of several key offensive playmakers.
How to watch UCLA vs. San Diego State live
UCLA vs. San Diego State: Need to know
Quarterback question: After five seasons with Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback, UCLA is finally on to a new chapter at the position. Ethan Garbers started at QB for the Bruins in Week 1 and led a touchdown drive to start the game that he capped with a 21-yard strike to tight end Carsen Ryan. By the time the Bruins' win over Coastal Carolina was complete, however, Dante Moore had stolen the show. The freshman was the program's second-highest rated commitment of all time, according to 247Sports, and he flashed his potential with two touchdown passes against the Chanticleers. How Chip Kelly divides the reps among the two after Moore's sterling debut will be among this game's top storylines.
Dynamic Mayden: San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden set a single-game school record for most rushing yards by a quarterback last week as he scampered for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Aztecs' win over Idaho State. Containing Mayden will be key for the Bruins, and they should be feeling good about their chances. The Bruins held dynamic Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall to just 24 yards rushing last week and sacked him four times, bringing his net rushing yards for the game to -5. UCLA will need to be similarly disruptive against Mayden to keep San Diego State in check.
Revenge game: Until San Diego State's 23-14 upset win over UCLA in 2019, the Bruins were 21-0-1 all-time against the Aztecs with the lone tie coming in 1924. The 2019 loss dropped UCLA to 0-2 in Kelly's second season as coach and helped propel the Aztecs to a 10-3 season during Rocky Long's final year as coach. The game was just one example of SDSU's recent success against Pac-12 foes. The Aztecs also beat Arizona and Utah in back-to-back games during the 2021 season on their way to a 12-2 campaign.
UCLA vs. San Diego State prediction, pick
Odds via SportsLine consensus
San Diego State beat UCLA 23-14 the last time these teams met in 2019 and took down a pair of Pac-12 foes in 2021. There is no intimidation factor whatsoever here, especially not with the Aztecs enjoying home-field advantage. UCLA's two-quarterback system is still working through some kinks, and that could be a problem against a San Diego State team that has already forced six turnovers. UCLA quarterbacks Ethan Garbers and Dante Moore were intercepted three times in a season-opening win over Coastal Carolina and will need to limit their mistakes if the Bruins are going to cover a spread this large. Prediction: San Diego State +13.5
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