Game Week: Virginia Facts and Factors

AUG. 26 -- UCLA opens up the 2014 season with high expectations and a trip to Virginia to take on the Cavaliers this Saturday at 9 A.M...

UCLA opens the 2014 season on the road, with the Bruins traveling to Charlottesville, Virginia, to take on the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday, Aug. 30th. The game kicks off at 9:00 a.m. PST, and will be televised by ESPN. Bob Wischusen, Matt Millen, and Quint Kesserich will call the action.

• UCLA is ranked No. 7 in both the AP Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll to start the season. It’s the highest that UCLA has been ranked heading into a season since 1998, when the Bruins were also ranked No. 7.

• This opener will mark the fourth time in five years that UCLA has opened the season on the road.

• The Bruins have gone 19-8 in Jim Mora’s first two years, with UCLA earning a 10-3 record last year with a final win over Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl. At No. 7, this is the highest that UCLA has been ranked at any point in a season since 2005.

• The Bruins return 16 starters from last year’s squad, with the only losses being Anthony Barr, Cassius Marsh, and Jordan Zumwalt on defense, and Shaquelle Evans, Darius Bell, and Xavier Su’a-Filo on offense.

• UCLA had some coaching turnover in the offseason. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos moved back to the NFL and running backs coach Steve Broussard was fired soon after the season. Former USC assistant coach Kennedy Polamalu was hired to take over the running backs, and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich was promoted to take over the coordinator duties. UCLA also hired Mike Tuiasosopo to handle outside linebackers and special teams coordination.

• This year will mark the first year of the College Football Playoff, and many national pundits are predicting that UCLA will make the final four. On ESPN College GameDay this past weekend, all three pundits (Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and Lee Corso) picked UCLA to make the playoffs, with Howard and Corso actually picking the Bruins to win the national championship. Several national media members have echoed that sentiment over the past several weeks.

• If UCLA were to win the national championship, it would be the first championship for the Bruins in football in 60 years, and just the second overall.

• UCLA was picked to win the Pac-12 South by Pac-12 media, but Oregon was picked to win the conference.

• Quarterback Brett Hundley is also already earning significant preseason hype as a Heisman candidate. Corso and Herbstreit both predicted that Hundley would win the Heisman this year. If Hundley were to pull it off, he would be just the second Heisman winner in UCLA history, after Gary Beban.

• Virginia had a miserable 2014 season, going 2-10 with one of those wins over VMI. The Cavaliers have been on a downward swing over the last few years, going from 8-5 in 2011 to 4-8 in 2012 to 2-10 last year.

• UCLA and Virginia have never played each other in football. UCLA is 17-13 all time against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

• Interestingly, both UCLA and Virginia ended the 2013 season playing the same opponent — Virginia Tech — with the Cavaliers losing 16-6 and the Bruins winning 42-12.

• Virginia head coach Mike London has won every home opener of his career as a head coach, though that list includes Elon, William & Mary, and Richmond (twice).

• London enters the season firmly on the hot seat after going 2-10 last year, which was Virginia’s worst record in more than 30 years. There is some thought that London will need to get to six wins and a bowl game to keep his job.

• The Cavaliers do return a good deal of their team, with 17 returning starters, including seven on offense and ten on defense.

• This will be just the fifth time that Virginia has played a Pac-12 opponent, and the Cavaliers are 0-4 against the conference, with losses to USC (twice), Oregon, and Washington.

• UCLA Chancellor Gene Block was a member of the faculty at Virginia and then served as provost, in addition to a variety of other positions, before being selected as Chancellor at UCLA in 2007.

• UCLA Sports Information Director Steve Rourke is also a Virginia graduate.

• The Bruins are favored by 21.5 points.

• The weather forecast calls for a high of 91 degrees with partly cloudy skies and a 10% chance of rain. So dress in clothes that will keep you dry while not making you overheat.

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