Houston: Facts and Factors

UCLA finishes its three-season series with the Houston Cougars, who are 0-2 to begin the season, with a new coach that isn't making the Cougar faithful happy...

-- UCLA will face the Houston Cougars at the Rose Bowl Saturday night. Kick-off is at 7:37 p.m., with the game televised by the Pac-12 Network. Announcers Ted Robinson and Glenn Parker are in the booth, and former Bruin linebacker Ryan Nece is on the sideline.

-- UCLA is 2-0, with wins over Rice (49-24) and over then-16th-ranked Nebraska last week, 46-30.

-- The Bruins are ranked 22nd and 23rd (AP and USA Today Polls). It will be the first time UCLA plays a game as a ranked team since September 15th, 2007. On that day, it traveled to Utah under Karl Dorrell and lost 44-6.

-- In a statistic nicely indicative of Rick Neuheisel's tenure at UCLA, the last time the Bruins were ranked was 2008, when the Bruins were No. 23 during the bye week after beating Tennessee 27-24 in overtime. UCLA lost that ranking before being thrashed 59-0 by BYU.

-- Jim Mora has UCLA ranked after his second game as head coach.

-- Houston is 0-2 on the season, having lost to Texas State (30-13) and Louisiana Tech (56-49).

-- Texas State, by the way, is in its first year as an FBS program, officially joining the WAC in July. Going into the 2012 season it was considered by many prognosticators to be the one of the worst teams in the FBS for 2012.

-- If you put any stock in power rankings, Texas State has now moved up and Houston has plummeted.

-- UCLA and Houston have faced each other 6 times, with the series currently even at 3-3. The game Saturday will wrap up a three-game series for the last three seasons, having played in 2010 (UCLA won, 31-13) and 2011 (Houston won, 38-34). In 2010, UCLA knocked out Houston quarterback Case Keenum and knocked off the 23rd-ranked Cougars. Last season, Keenum got his revenge in beating the Bruins.

-- Houston is coached by first-year man Tony Levine, who was named head coach in December when Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M. Levine was Houston's receivers and special teams coach and took over on an interim basis to coach the team in the TicketCity Bowl after Sumlin left. Houston conducted a ten-day search at the time, but ultimately settled on Levine. Levine has said repeatedly he'll continue Houston's tradition of a high-flying offense, which was evident in their game with Louisiana Tech.

-- Some of the Houston faithful are already putting Levine on the hot seat, after just two games as a head coach. The Cougars are making the move to the Big East next season, and a poor season in 2012 could fuel the flames of dissension. They're a bit spoiled, coming off their best season in some time in 2012, going 12-1 and ending the season ranked 14/18. In Sumlin's four seasons as head coach, Houston went to three bowl games, had just one losing season and two seasons of 10+ wins.

-- After Houston's first loss of the season to Texas State, Levine replaced offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt with assistant coach Travis Bush.

-- UCLA and Houston both have their conference's Offensive Player of the Week, respectively. UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin was named it for a second straight week, the first time that had ever been achieved by a Bruin. Houston's sophomore quarterback David Piland was honored by Conference USA after completing an astounding 53 passes on 77 attempts for 580 yards and four touchdowns. HIs 77 attempts set an NCAA record for the most in a game without an interception; his 53 completions are the fifth-best single game mark in NCAA history; and his 584 yards of total offense is the second-best single-game total in Conference USA history.

-- Houston is 2-8 with Piland as its starting quarterback. Both of those wins, however, were on the road, in 2010.

-- Franklin, of course, is making his mark in the record books also. Franklin is 7th on UCLA's all-time career rushing list with 3,100 career yards. This week he'll have a chance to really jump up the chart, being just 4 yards behind Skip Hicks, 81 behind Wendell Tyler, 82 behind Karim Adbul-Jabbar, 94 behind Deshaun Foster, and 95 behind Freeman McNeill. He, conceivably, with a good day against Houston, could move into second place on the all-time list. Gaston Green is at the top of the list with 3,731 total yards.

-- Franklin leads the nation in rushing, averaging 215.5 yards per game after two games. He also leads the nation in all-purpose yards (249.5).

-- Franklin's 215.5-yard average would have him ranked 31st in the nation as a team.

-- His 3,100 yards rushing total ranks fifth among active FBS players (#1 is WIsconsin's Montee Ball, 3,491).

-- UCLA has won 22 of its last 27 non-conference match-ups in the Rose Bowl.

-- The Bruins were 5-1 at the Rose Bowl last season (overall 6-8).

-- UCLA has started a season well before in recent years, but only to collapse. In Neuheisel's first season in 2008, UCLA beat #18 Tennessee but then lost the next three in a row and finished 4-8. In 2010, the Bruins beat two ranked teams on consecutive weeks, #23-ranked Houston and #7-ranked Texas, but then lost six of its last seven games. Last season, the Bruins defeated #20 Arizona but then lost four of its last five games.

-- UCLA's 653 yards gained against Nebraska last week was the sixth-best total in school history and most since 2005. It marked the first time -- ever -- that UCLA put together back-to-back games with at least 645 yards of total offense (646 yards at Rice).

-- Nick Ekbatani a UCLA offensive lineman from 2006-2009, will be the game's honorary captain. In July, Ekbatani was involved in a motorcycle accident which resulted in his left leg being amputated below the knee. A website devoted to raising funds for a prosthetic (Big Nick Fund) has raised over $61,000.

-- UCLA is favored by 17 1/2 points.

-- Saturday calls for a hot day in Pasadena, with a high projected temperature of 98 degrees. But, with the late start, it should be comfortably in the 70s for most of the game.


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