NOTEBOOK: Checking in on UCLA

HOW AMPED UP are they in Los Angeles after UCLA's 3-0 start and No. 19 ranking? An LA Times writer this week said Jim Mora, who has coached all of three games in college, looks to be cut from the same cloth as the best college/pro coach in the game today. Meanwhile, Las Vegas over the course of this week seems to be seeing things a little differently…

UCLA opened as an 11 point favorite over Oregon State for Saturday's tilt in the Rose Bowl. As of last check, that betting line had shrunk by a little more than 35 percent.

UCLA is now favored by 7 points at home.

Many people seem to be discounting OSU's win over Wisconsin, saying the Badgers were overrated. But if you want to play that game, don't you also have to question UCLA's wins too?

Nebraska is UCLA's signature win. But Nebraska's two wins have come against Southern Miss and Arkansas State, from the Sun Belt and Conference-USA, respectively, and who have a combined 1-4 record. And then UCLA's other wins have come against Rice and Houston, a pair of C-USA teams with a combined 1-5 record.

We'll know more after Saturday, but seems a tad early, and with not enough evidence in hand, to be dreaming too big down in L.A.

THE BRUINS' RUN defense is ranked the worst in the Pac-12, allowing 191 yards per game (No. 95 in the nation). That might be deceiving, though. The three opposing quarterbacks ran for lots of yards, and UCLA isn't doing too shabbily against runs from scrimmage.

And Sean Mannion is not a running QB threat.

Other stats – UCLA is sixth in the Pac-12 in pass defense (204.0 ypg) – which is intriguing given the ink their secondary has garnered and tied for sixth in scoring defense (20 ppg).

UCLA CERTAINLY LOOKS like a team that makes good adjustments at halftime.

Opponents have scored 48 points over the first thirty minutes, and only 12 in the second half.

MORA SAID HE expects to see plenty of the run from Oregon State, with more multiple tight end sets. But he isn't betting the farm on anything, given that there's only one piece of 2012 game tape out there. Still…

"There are a lot similarities with what they did last year. You have to go back to look at what they did last year," he said this week to reporters.

Mora further reasoned that because OSU has enjoyed more coaching staff stability than most, he wasn't expecting huge differences. UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone held the same post at ASU from 2010-11. Last year, ASU beat Oregon State 35-20.

"We'll look at the concepts and schemes they used in that game," Mora said.

Mazzone was the OSU running backs and special teams coach 10 years ago (2002).

ONE THING OREGON STATE teams have liked to do often over the past few years on the first drive is to at first go away from the game plan – i.e. If the game plan is to mostly run, the first drive on offense for OSU is all about the pass. Many think the game plan for OSU against UCLA will be run-heavy.

"They run powers and they run lead draws and split bellies and isos and stretches and inside and outside zone," Mora said.

ONE OF THE MORE frustrating things for a defense is to play a third-and-long perfectly and then watch a QB move the chains on forced scramble. UCLA QB Brett Hundley can hurt teams on the ground.

He averages nearly 40 yards a game rushing.

OSU SHOULD BE relatively healthy coming into the game.

Safety Anthony Watkins is back practicing, although sophomore Tyrequek Zimmerman will remain the starter for now, according to reports. Fullback Clayton York is also back practicing though Tyler Anderson is still running with the 1s.

LA LA LAND has not been kind to Oregon State. The Beavers are 7-23-3 in Los Angeles and last won there in 2008.

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