Significant Factors in SDSU Game

Probably the most significant is the status of the "Station Fire," but if San Diego State does actually come to the Rose Bowl to play Saturday, it also will have two of UCLA's most successful ex-coordinators on the sideline...

-- UCLA opens its 2009 season at home against the San Diego State Aztecs, Saturday at 4:45.

-- The game will be televised locally on FS West with Bill Macdonald and James Washington calling the action.  

-- UCLA is, of course, coming off a 4-8 season, its worst in 20 years (the 1989 Bruins went 3-7).  

-- San Diego State topped UCLA for bad seasons a year ago, going 2-10.  

-- Shortly thereafter, the Aztecs fired head Coach Chuck Long and hired Brady Hoke, who had been the head coach at Ball State, where, in six seasons, he guided the Cardinals to a pair of bowl games. In 2008, Ball State went 12-1 and appeared in the GMAC Bowl, which was the school's best season in its history.  The Cardinals were as high as #12 in the AP poll a year ago.  

-- The series between UCLA and San Diego State is a long one, dating back to 1922.  UCLA has never lost to the Aztecs in that time, with the series standing at 20-0-1.   The time came in 1924 and since then UCLA has won 18 straight.

-- The meeting Saturday will be the fifth time this decade the two teams have met, with the last game in 2005.  

-- Since SDSU became a Division 1 team (in 1969), in 14 games against UCLA the Aztecs have only led after halftime on one occasion (in 1989).  

-- The last time the two teams met, in 2005 at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, UCLA won 44-21.

-- Before that, UCLA played SDSU in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and UCLA's average margin of victory for the four games was 23 points.

-- UCLA is starting its 91st season of football, and 28th season in the Rose Bowl.

-- If UCLA doesn't win the Pac-10 championship this year, the decade of the 2000s will be the first it didn't win a conference or league title since the 1920s. 

-- Hoke went to Ball State from Michigan, where he was an associate head coach and defensive lines coach.   He also coached the DL and linebackers at Oregon State in the early 1990s.

-- One of the biggest curiosities for Bruin fans in this match-up with the Aztecs are SDSU's two coordinators.  The Aztec offensive coordinator is Al Borges, who was the OC at UCLA from 1996 to 2000 under Bob Toledo, and the architect of the great Cade McNown offenses.   SDSU defensive coordinator Rocky Long was the UCLA DC for two seasons, in 1996 and 1997, also under Toledo.  Borges and Toledo were the coordinators in 1997 when UCLA went 10-2, won a Pac-10 championship and ended the season ranked 5th in the nation.  Borges, since then, has been the OC at California, Indiana and Auburn.  Long left UCLA to be the head coach at New Mexico and was there until he was fired after last season.

-- Tony White, who was a UCLA linebacker in the late 1990s, is also the SDSU cornerbacks coach.  He was, most recently, a UCLA grad assistant.

-- There are also about 30 players on the two rosters combined who went to various high schools together.

-- San Diego State has a four-game losing streak in season-opening games.   They are 2-7 so far this decade in season openers.   The Aztecs, with season-opening road games, have a nine-game losing streak going.  They haven't won a season-opening game on the road since 1981.

-- Hoke has been preaching that he's trying to change the culture at SDSU football, which has been considered soft to outsiders.  He has publicly questioned the toughness.

-- Last year, the Aztecs were among the worst teams in Division 1.  They ranked among the few worst teams in the nation in scoring, rushing, scoring defense, rushing defense and total yards.   They allowed opponents to score 35 or more points eight times last season, including the 70 points to New Mexico and 63 to Utah.

-- The "Station Fire," which is raging in the hills north of Pasadena, has left it uncertain whether the game will be played Saturday due to the poor air quality.   As of Wednesday morning, reports were generally positive, that the air quality has continued to improve and that the game will more than likely go on as scheduled.  UCLA has said that, if the game can't be played, it will be rescheduled at a later time at the Rose Bowl, most likely December 5th.  It's now believed that a decision wil be made by Thursday.

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