First look: Arizona State Sun Devils

No. 11 UCLA Bruins (3-0) vs. No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils (3-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT, Sun Devil Stadium (Tempe, Ariz.)
TV: FOX Sports 1 (Tim Brando, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft)
Radio: AM 570 / SIRIUS 108 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Coach: Remember when Todd Graham looked like the biggest turncoat in college football?

A little more than a year ago, ESPN’s anonymous poll of 92 college football players found that 14 percent said Graham was the last coach they’d want to play for — beating out Lane Kiffin by three percent.

But Graham only needed two seasons to win a Pac-12 South title, endearing himself to the Arizona State fan base and pushing his messy departure from Pitt deeper into the newspaper archives. ASU has compensated him handsomely for that success — paying him around $800,000 in performance bonuses for the 2013 season.

Key players:

QB Mike Bercovici, Jr., 6-1, 200 — 9/17, 79 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 7 carries, 12 rushing yards
– Once considered Brock Osweiler’s heir apparent until Taylor Kelly won out, Bercovici finally gets his chance to start in the wake of Kelly’s foot injury. He’s not the same type of running threat as Kelly (ASU’s second-leading rusher at 19 carries for 168 yards) but Bercovici has a strong arm and has been in the program for years.

RB D.J. Foster, Jr., 5-11, 205 — 54 carries, 510 rushing yards, 5 TD, 11 catches, 139 receiving yards, 1 TD
– Looks like a workhorse back capable of racking up yards after contact. Averages 216.3 all-purpose yards per game, good for second in the country and one spot ahead of Georgia’s Heisman candidate Todd Gurley. Continue reading

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Jim Mora: No status update on Brett Hundley’s elbow injury

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley (17) watches action against UCLA from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 13,  2014, in Arlington, Texas. He left the game after an injury in the first half. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley (17) watches from the sideline on Sept. 13, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. He the Bruins’ eventual 20-17 win after a first-quarter elbow injury. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

After injuring his left elbow early in UCLA’s 20-17 win over Texas, star quarterback Brett Hundley’s status won’t be official one way or another until the Bruins take the field again.

“I’m not going to tell anybody anything until kickoff versus Arizona State,” head coach Jim Mora said Sunday. “Nobody. Nothing.”

Hundley reportedly suffered a slight hyperextension of his left (non-throwing) elbow that will hold him out one week, but Mora said the redshirt junior had not yet had his MRI. He may be examined on Monday, but Mora didn’t give a firm schedule.

UCLA (3-0) has a bye week ahead, and will travel to Tempe to play the Sun Devils on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. PT. That’s ideal timing for the Bruins, which can now give its Heisman contender more time to recover — as well as give backup Jerry Neuheisel more practice reps if needed to fill in. Continue reading

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At a glance: No. 14 UCLA vs. No. 17 Arizona State

No. 14 UCLA (8-2, 5-2) vs. No. 17 Arizona State (8-2, 6-1)
Location:
Rose Bowl, Nov. 23, 4 p.m.
TV: FOX (Gus Johnson, Charles Davis, Kristina Pink)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Last meeting: UCLA eked out a 45-43 win in Tempe, with then-freshman Ka’imi Fairbairn hitting a 33-yard field goal as time expired. Tailback Johnathan Franklin rushed for two touchdowns, while Damien Thigpen had two scoring catches.

Key storylines: Arizona State would clinch its first-ever Pac-12 South title with a win over UCLA, earning a chance to validate coach Todd Graham’s Rose Bowl poster. Continue reading

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Jayon Brown named Pac-12 Special Teams Player of Week

Jayon Brown’s big fumble recovery this past weekend has landed him Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

In the second quarter of 45-23 win against Colorado on Saturday, UCLA’s true freshman jumped on top of a loose ball dislodged by fellow first-year Cameron Judge. The recovery gave the Bruins the ball on the Buffs’ 14-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Brett Hundley found Devin Fuller in the end zone, bumping UCLA’s lead 21-10. Continue reading

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Pac-12′s Top 25 Players, Part I

Who are the top players in the Pac-12?

Eleven beat writers from around the conference tried to answer that question, submitting their top-25 lists based on whatever criteria they thought appropriate. The No. 1 player received 25 points, the No. 2 player received 24, and so on. (Credit to the OC Register’s Ryan Kartje for starting the project and tallying up all the votes.)

The results will be released in groups of five. On Saturday, I’ll post my own ballot and compare it to the combined results.

Here we go … Continue reading

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UCLA vs. Arizona State: Halftime update

Story of two games so far. First an odd coin toss screw-up by Jeff Locke that gave ASU the ball to start both halves; he said he wanted to kickoff rather than defer, giving the Sun Devils the option after halftime. Arizona State took advantage of a muffed punt by Steven Manfro after the UCLA defense forced a three-and-out. The Sun Devils scored two plays later on a 7-yard pass to Kevin Ozier, then gashed the Bruins on a methodical run game to go up 14-0 early.

UCLA responded with an impressive drive of its own, built mostly on the efforts of tailback Johnathan Franklin. Brett Hundley connected with Devin Fuller in the end zone for the receiver’s first catch. UCLA then took advantage with a brilliant punt, heavy pass pressure, and a bad pass by Taylor Kelly. Snatched it for a TD return to go up 21-17. Continue reading

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