NORMAN, Okla. — Don't tell UCLA Head Coach Karl Dorrell and tight end Marcedes Lewis they're 18-point underdogs this weekend. They're not buying it.
The Bruins, who will bring the nations' worst offense to Norman for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. kick-off against top-ranked Oklahoma and their vaunted defense, feel that they're ready to meet the challenge.
"I have a chance to be a part of something that's great," said Lewis on the potential of upsetting the Sooners. "Playing the No. 1 team in the nation. I think we'll be ready and we'll seize the moment."
But while Lewis and the Bruins' offense have been horrific in the first two games, their defense has been just as scary, but in a good way.
The Bruins currently boast the nation's 16th best total defense, and are even ranked higher in the scoring defense rankings than the Sooners. UCLA ranks 10th in scoring defense giving up just 9.5 points per game, while the Sooners are giving up 14.7 points per game through their first three contests.
"Our defense has played well for us," Dorrell said. "That's where most of our experience is on our team. We have a lot of senior leadership on our defensive line positions, which is really I think the corp of why we're having the success we're having on defense. We've got a good, experienced secondary, and even though none of them are seniors, they've all been starters the previous year."
"They're very similar to Alabama's in that they've got very skilled people all across the board — guys that can run and have great size to them. They play well," said OU Head Coach Bob Stoops on the Bruins' defense.
But the offense has been a different story. The Bruins started the season with a 16-14 loss at Colorado, and followed that up with only 204 yards of total offense in their 6-3 win over Illinois last weekend in Pasadena.
toops says the Bruins' offense will bring plenty of weapons to Norman.
"They have some big play receivers who have have had opportunities in games where they've had a few drops. They could have quite a few more yards and points," said Stoops.
"They're very similar to the last couple of teams we've played in some of their sets with the way they're running and throwing the ball. They have people who are very capable of making a lot of big plays."
Dorrell says UCLA's offense is still a work in progress.
"On offense, what we have is going to be inexperienced because our quarterback is that way," said Dorrell. "We're young. We don't have any seniors, other than our backup tight end who became a starter for us because of an injury we had in the offseason."
"I think when you watch tape and see some missed opportunities that could've been points, those are things that weren't executed. I think that's the major crux of what we're doing right now. We haven't had the execution on that side of it with passes and drops and things like that that have plagued us for the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, we can rebound and have a little bit more success this week."
A major blow for the Bruins' offense came in the opener against Colorado when starting quarterback Matt Moore was injured in the first half. Moore was replaced by Drew Olsen, who came off the bench to throw two touchdown passes against Colorado, has completed 24 of 54 passes this season for 258 yards.
Despite UCLA's offensive woes, OU Head Coach Bob Stoops isn't taking the Bruins lightly.
"Offensively, they may not be to where their defense is yet, but you see guys in spots that can make plays," Stoops said. "They have really good personnel. When you watch them on tape they've got great size, and speed on both sides of the ball."
"They're every bit as talented as anyone we've played to this point. It will be a big challenge."
And the UCLA players say they're ready for the challenge.
"It means everything for the program," said UCLA cornerback Matt Ware. "It's a huge game. With their history, it's everything. It's a great opportunity for us. That's the way I see it so I'll be ready."
"I think we're ready to step up to the challenge," said offensive tackle Steven Vieira. We've worked hard all week, with a great focus, and we're preparing ourselves to get things done. I'm kind of excited about this."
"I'm expecting it to be very loud, with mean fans," said Vieira. "Once the crowd gets going, you have 85,000 people, in a hostile environment like Oklahoma, it's difficult. They're all wearing red, yelling at us, screaming, giving us the middle finger. If we can get them out of the game it will help take Oklahoma out of the game."
"Our kids are going to show up on Saturday thinking in their mind they have a chance to win the football game, because that's what we think," said Dorrell. "We're going to come in there and put out best effort forward and see how we measure up against the best team in the country."
Dorrell, Bruins coming to Norman confident
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