Despite losing three of their last four games, UCLA is still in position to grab a share of the Pac-10 title. Arizona State, losers of four of the last five meetings between the two schools, enters with similar aspirations. With the loss at Oregon last week, Saturday's game marks the first opportunity to see how the Dennis Erickson-led Sun Devils respond after a loss.


2007 Record: 5-4, 4-2 Pac-10
Head Coach: Karl Dorrell

Last Week: A second-half rally wasn't quite enough for the Bruins as they fell to Arizona, 34-27.


*Projected Starters

WR Joe Cowan, Sr.
LT Aleksey Lanis, So.
LG Shannon Tevaga, Sr.
C Chris Joseph, Sr.
RG Micah Reed, Jr.
RT Brian Abraham, Sr.
TE Logan Paulsen, Jr.
QB Osaar Rasshan, So.
FB Trevor Theriot, So.
TB Chris Markey, Sr.
WR Brandon Breazell, Sr.

The Bruins have had some bad luck in keeping their quarterbacks healthy this year. Heralded junior Ben Olson began the season as the starter but a knee injury has sidelined him for nearly a month now. Pat Cowan, a seasoned reserve, suffered an unfortunate collapsed lung injury in the loss at Arizona which has shelved him for this week's game against the Sun Devils. UCLA will now turn to sophomore Osaar Rasshan to lead the offense. Rasshan was 3 of 10 passing for 78 yards last week in Tucson but provided a spark for the struggling offense by moving the chains with his feet. The converted receiver ran for 57 yards on eight carries.
Seniors Brandon Breazell and Joe Cowan are the top aerial targets in Westwood. The two pass-catchers have combined for nearly 1,000 receiving yards and six touchdowns. 6'3" sophomore Dominique Johnson has already gotten in on the action this season instead of waiting around for the departures of some key seniors. Johnson has three scores on eighteen receptions. Terrence Austin and tight end Logan Paulsen round out the group. Austin averages just under 16 yards per catch.

Featured Matchup: UCLA Running Backs vs. Arizona State Linebackers

Fortunes here are relying heavily on the day-to-day status of senior Chris Markey's ankle this week as injuries have taken a toll in the backfield as well. Khalil Bell, the Bruins' top rusher this season, is already out for the remainder of the year. Markey is an experienced runner and is capable of shouldering some of the load. The senior has netted 457 yards and three touchdowns on 100 attempts this season. If Markey can't go this Saturday, UCLA may be down to sophomores Chane Moline and Craig Sheppard, a walk-on. Moline has one score this season and is averaging 3.8 yards per carry. The status of reserve Christian Ramirez is uncertain after the sophomore suffered a concussion last week at Arizona.


*Projected Starters

DE Tom Blake, Jr.
DT Brian Price, Fr.
DT Kevin Brown, Sr.
DE Bruce Davis, Sr.
SLB Kyle Bosworth, Jr.
MLB Christian Taylor, Sr.
WLB Reggie Carter, So.
SS Chris Horton, Sr.
FS Dennis Keyes, Sr.
CB Trey Brown, Sr.
CB Alterraun Verner, So.

The strength of the Bruin defense is in the secondary with a handful of capable defensive backs. Safeties Dennis Keyes and Chris Horton are the top two tacklers with seventy and sixty-six stops respectively. Keyes has also notched two interceptions this season. Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist Trey Brown is tied for the lead in the Pac-10 with seventeen passes defended, including fourteen pass break ups. Alterraun Verner is following up his impressive freshman debut from a year ago with another solid campaign in 2007. Verner is third in tackles with fifty-four stops and has also added three interceptions. Rodney Van is also another option at cornerback with starting experience. The senior has three pass break ups and one pick.

Christian Taylor leads all linebackers with fifty-two tackles, including eight stops for a loss, in the middle. Outside linebackers Reggie Carter and Kyle Bosworth have a combined ninety-three stops and two forced fumbles. Aaron Whittington is the top reserve with thirty-two takedowns and one sack.

Featured Matchup: UCLA Defensive Line vs. Arizona State Offensive Line

After facing Nick Reed last week at Oregon, the Sun Devil offensive line will have their hands full once again with defensive end Bruce Davis this Saturday. Davis is among the top pass rushers in the nation with 9.5 sacks. The senior boasts six pass break ups and can bat down passes while trying to shed blocks. Tom Blake has two sacks opposite Davis at the other end spot. Defensive Tackle Kevin Brown is a leader on the interior with thirty-two stops and three sacks. Tackles Jess Ward and Brigham Harwell are close to returning to the field from injuries. Both would help provide a boost in rush defense upon their return.


PK Kai Forbath, Fr.
P Aaron Perez, Jr.

KOR Matthew Slater, Sr.
PR Terrence Austin, So.

Some of the conference's top specialists will be on hand this week in Pasadena. In addition to Arizona State's Thomas Weber, Kai Forbath has been a solid performer this season. Forbath is 17 of 21 on field goal attempts and is 2 of 2 on attempts of 50+ yards. Aaron Perez ranks second in the conference in punting with a 43.3 yard average on 53 punts. His longest punt of the season went for 66 yards.

Kickoff return man Matt Slater is tops in the Pac-10 this season, boasting a 30 yard average per return. Slater has scored two times on his 26 kickoff returns and poses a threat to the coverage team for ASU. Sophomore receiver Terrence Austin is the top punt returner for the Bruins. Austin has averaged 8.1 yards on twenty-three punt returns this season. His longest return of the year was for 22 yards.


--Stop The Run: The defense may be called upon to shoulder more of the load this weekend with the injury bug on offense. Defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker's group can carry the torch but needs to get back on track after the last two weeks. The Arizona State offense is still predicated on balance despite losing their top running back in Ryan Torain. Stopping ASU ball-carriers Dimitri Nance and Keegan Herring is priority #1 for the Bruin defense this week

--Stop The Penalties: The Bruins have accrued 73 penalties so far this season, more than any other team in the conference. Procedure penalties are a killer for any offense with a new quarterback under center seeking to find his rhythm. The UCLA defense will also want to avoid penalties that help keep ASU drives alive as the Sun Devils are adept at tiring out defenses with their time-of-possession advantage.

--Pass Rush: Arizona State's pass protection has been a sore spot for most of the season as Rudy Carpenter has been sacked a total of 37 times. Carpenter is dangerous when he's given time to make his reads but can struggle under pressure. A career day for Bruce Davis and company could go a long way in springing the upset over ASU.


--Limit Sacks: The sack problem reared it's ugly head again in Eugene as quarterback Rudy Carpenter was sacked nine times in the loss at Oregon. The pass protection could use some improvement but Carpenter must be more vigilant of the limited time he has in the pocket. By either throwing the ball away or tucking with it and running, the signal-caller can perhaps put the offense in more manageable situations on second and third downs.

--Establish The Run: After putting up very respectable numbers in rush defense in the first half of the season, the Bruin defense has been giving up more yardage on the ground in their last two games. Washington State and Arizona combined for over 400 rushing yards against UCLA. Arizona State needs to take advantage of a defensive line still smarting from a couple of injuries.

--Make An Early Statement: This should be a goal on both sides of the ball this week. The offense shrugged off their typical slow starts last week with an impressive first drive at Oregon but had to settle for a field goal. An early touchdown this week lets the Bruins know the Sun Devils have come to play. The defense can also make an early statement by being physical from the first whistle. Don't let Bruin signal-caller Osaar Rasshan gain confidence by getting into an early rhythm.

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