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First look: UCLA at No. 19 Washington State

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 17, 2019, 3:23 p.m.

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson gestures during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (Mark J. Terrill / AP)
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson gestures during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (Mark J. Terrill / AP)

What is it? Washington State (3-0) opens Pac-12 Conference play, hosting UCLA (0-3) in the first game between the two teams in three seasons.

Where is it? Martin Stadium in Pullman.

When is it? Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where can I watch it? ESPN will broadcast the game.

Who is favored? The home team opened as a 19-point favorite.

How did they fare last week? The Bruins continued to struggle, losing their third straight game, 48-14 at home against No. 5 Oklahoma. The Cougars, meanwhile, picked up their third consecutive win, beating Houston 31-24 Friday night at NRG Stadium.

Why UCLA will win: The Bruins are big underdogs, but they pulled off a pair of surprising wins last season after opening the year with an 0-5 record. UCLA thumped California 37-7 in Berkeley and responded with a 31-30 win over Arizona the following week at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins lost three more games before pulling an upset of USC in the 11th week of the season. WSU’s Mike Leach acknowledged Monday the Bruins haven’t played to their potential this season and would be a tough bunch to beat once they clicked. If it happens this Saturday, the Cougars could have a battle on their hands.

Why WSU will win: In three games, UCLA has scored just 42 points – exactly 14 per game – and Chip Kelly’s Bruins are the only team in the Pac-12 averaging fewer than 300 offensive yards per game. Currently, the Bruins are at 263 ypg, nearly 90 yards fewer than 11th-place Stanford. Adding to those woes, UCLA’s defense ranks 10th in the Pac-12 in yards per game allowed, at 467. The Bruins are winless this season and just 3-15 in two years under Kelly. That includes a 1-6 record in road games and losses in seven of their last eight games.

What happened last time: The Cougars relied heavily on their running game in a 27-21 win over the Bruins three years ago at Martin Stadium. Amid Palouse rain showers, WSU put the ball on the ground 35 times and rushed for 95 yards and three touchdowns. Gerard Wicks only had nine carries for 24 yards, but the running back ran into the end zone twice, while Jamal Morrow added eight carries for 51 yards and a touchdown. UCLA, playing without starting QB and current Miami Dolphin Josh Rosen, turned to Mike Fafaul behind center. He completed 24 of 40 passes for three touchdowns and two interceptions, while WSU’s Luke Falk completed 28 of 48 passes and failed to throw a TD for the first time in his career.

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