ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley felt so much better taking snaps from Jake Brendel, the center who now gets to go home with the 12th-ranked Bruins.
Hundley has accounted for a touchdown in each of his 29 consecutive starts, but things were clearly out of synch when UCLA struggled offensively in the season opener that Brendel missed with a sprained left knee.
“We came in together, and I’ve really only taken snaps from him since I got here,” said Hundley, who rebounded in Week 2 as the Pac-12 offensive player of the week with 422 total yards. “It’s a big difference to have him back, and I think you could see it.”
The Bruins (2-0) on Saturday night take on the Texas Longhorns (1-1) in Arlington, Texas. The game is at the $1.2 billion Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium where the national championship game will be decided in four months, and where Brendel played a few games while at nearby Plano East High School.
“I played there in high school and playoffs. It’s impressive. The whole stadium, the whole atmosphere, especially when it’s full,” Brendel said. “It’s an impressive place to play.”
While the Texas campus is only about three hours away from the stadium, this will be the first time the Longhorns play there since the 2009 Big 12 championship game the same year it opened.
The Longhorns easily won their opener over North Texas, but are coming off a 41-7 home loss to BYU. First-year Longhorns coach Charlie Strong made it clear publicly and privately to his team this week that those kinds of performances are not acceptable.
“It’s embarrassing and humiliating when you get beat at home. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of throwing your team under the bus, and they heard it from me,” Strong said. “And they’ve heard it from me for two or three days, and have continued to hear it from me.”
Here are few things to know when the Bruins and Longhorns hook up in a “neutral” location game:
BURDEN OF EXPECTATIONS?: After its highest preseason ranking since 1998, UCLA has dropped in both polls since even while winning its first two games in which they were heavy favorites. The Bruins needed three defensive touchdowns to win 28-20 at Virginia in the opener, and Hundley threw a tiebreaking touchdown at home last week in a 42-35 win over Memphis. “For us, you’ve got to always be happy when you win, because that’s the first objective,” coach Jim Mora said of the close wins. “But I don’t think anybody was satisfied. … Knocking us back on track? No. Maybe refocusing a little bit.”
MORE FOR SWOOPES: Tyrone Swoopes will make his second start as the Texas quarterback in place of concussion plagued David Ash. There was a simplified offensive game plane in place for the sophomore’s first career start last week. It won’t be that simple against UCLA. “It’s going to be expanded,” coach Strong said. “The thing he did was he executed the offense and he managed it very well. … Just each and every week, it’ll be something added for him because now he’s shown that we all were just wondering how it was going to go, and I think it ended up going very well.”
HOMECOMING TICKETS: Sophomore linebacker Deon Hollins was recruited by Texas before going to UCLA. This week, his entire family from the Houston area will get a chance to see him play. “It should be wonderful. Let’s just say 20 or 30 (tickets) is not enough,” said Hollins, who had reasons for not saying closer to home. “I just felt like here gave me a little bit more love.” The Bruins have nine players from Texas on their roster.
SACK ATTACK: The Texas defense has recovered 10 sacks through the first two games — only three FBS teams have averaged more than the Longhorns’ five per game. Nine players have been involved in those sacks.
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