BOWL GAME ON THEIR MIND: The Bruins have qualified to play in a bowl game in 10 of the last 11 seasons, including the last six years. But with a 3-5 record and four games left on the schedule, including a difficult season ending clash with USC, UCLA must win three of their last four games if they want to keep their post season streak alive. "If we can find a way to beat Oregon State, that puts us in a position where the postseason is still alive," Neuheisel said. "The whole goal for the season lies on a great plan for the Oregon State game."
BELL BANGED UP: The UCLA running game ranks 117th nationally (81.5 yards per game) largely due to a banged up offensive line and their top running back, senior Kahlil Bell, playing through an ankle injury. In six games this year Bell has carried the ball just 77 times for 192 yards (2.49 ypc) and five touchdowns. The team's leading rusher is true freshman Derrick Coleman who has carried the ball 36 times for 197 yards and one touchdown. Coleman has just one yard lost on his 36 carries.
SPEED KILLS: Junior receiver/kick returner Terrence Austin is a big threat in the return game averaging 25.1 yards per return, second in the Pac-10, with a long of 82 yards. He currently ranks seventh in the NCAA and second in the Pac-10 in all purpose yards at 172.9 a game. Austin already ranks fifth on the all-time UCLA punt returns list and his 32 kickoffs and 802 yards in 2008 rank second at UCLA for one season.
HOME, SWEET, HOME: UCLA has won 19 of its last 24 games (.792) at the Rose Bowl while their home record over the last six seasons is 27-9 (.750).
GETTING POUNDED: Defensive tackles Brigham Harwell, an Outland and Lombardi candidate, and Brian Price, who leads the team with 10 tackles for loss, were supposed to be one of the team's strengths this season, but they, along with their counterparts on defense, have struggled in the last three game giving up 268.3 rushing yards per game. On the year UCLA allows 188.8 yards per game, good for 101st in the nation.
ON THE POSITIVE SIDE: Despite being run over in the last three games the defense has done a good job on third downs allowing its last four foes to convert just 12 of 50 (24.0%) on third-down conversion attempts. The Bruins are also doing a good job against the pass allowing 172.6 yards per game, third in the Pac-10. In fact, UCLA has allowed just 246 passing yards (21 completions in 54 attempts (38.9%) in the last three games, including two games under 100 yards.
TOO MANY PICKS: Although QB Kevin Craft leads the Pac-10 in completions (20.50), is second in total offense (221.00) and fifth in passing yards (215.50) the coaches may go with redshirt freshman Chris Forcier at some point against Oregon State. Craft has thrown a Pac-10 high 11 interceptions, four against Cal two weeks ago, and Forcier gives the team a more mobile gunslinger which would help out their besieged running game.
TURNOVER BATTLE: UCLA is 25-2 when it wins the turnover battle over the past five-plus seasons, including 5-0 in 2007 and 2-0 in 2008. On the flip side the Bruins are 13-31 when it ties or loses the turnover battle over the last five-plus seasons, including 1-5 in 2008.
FANTASTIC FRESHMAN: Keep your eye on true freshman receiver Taylor Ember who has 20 catches in the last four games. He leads the team with 414 yards on 30 receptions, 22 of them resulting in first downs, while his 13.8 yards per catch is second highest on the team. His receptions and receiving yards totals are UCLA records for a true freshmen.
BALL HAWK: Junior cornerback Alterraun Verner is one of the most experienced players on the team with a team best 17 consecutive starts. He is also one of the most dangerous as he currently ranks second in the Pac-10 and fourth in the NCAA with 1.63 pass defenses per game. The Jim Thorpe Award and Lott Trophy candidate has three interceptions returns for a touchdown in his career
ONE OF THE BEST: Senior punter Aaron Perez, a Ray Guy Award candidate, is one of the top punters in the nation averaging 44.4 yards per kick which ranks 10th in the NCAA and second in the Conference of Champions. He has a league-high 16 punts of at least 50 yards while 29.4% (15 of 51) of his kicks have been downed inside the 20. In his four-year career, he is averaging 42.30 yards per punt, fifth highest in school history. He ranks second in school history with 258 punts and 10,913 yards.
FIRST DOWN!: Despite UCLA's offensive woes - 117th nationally in rushing (81.5 yards per game), 102nd in total offense (300.9) and 92nd in scoring (20.4 points per game) - the offense has successfully converted on 33 of its last 73 (45.2%) third down opportunities over the last four games.
TOP 3: Junior linebacker Reggie Carter leads the team with 57 tackles, 2.5 for loss and 2 forced fumbles, while cornerback Alterraun Verner, 52 tackles, 1.5 for loss, 11 pass breakups, 2 interceptions, and strong safety Bret Lockett, 49 tackles, 2.5 for loss, round out the top three. Carter ranks sixth in Pac-10 with 7.13 tackles per game while his 20 tackles at BYU were the most for a UCLA player since 1989. Lockett ranks seventh in Pac-10 with 7.00 tackles per game.