No. 13 UCLA looks to avoid misstep against Fresno State

Fresno State (2-1) at No. 13 UCLA (2-0), Saturday at 10:45 p.m. EDT (Pac-12 Network).

Line: UCLA by 11 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: UCLA leads 6-3.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Between their impressive win over LSU and chaos elsewhere in the Pac-12 South, the Bruins suddenly find themselves regarded as favorites to play in the conference title game for the first time since 2012. However, the past two decades of UCLA football is littered with moments where it looked like the program was on the verge of a breakthrough, only to stumble. The Bulldogs would love to hand the Bruins one of those all-too-familiar setbacks, and they should feel up to the task after giving No. 4 Oregon all it could handle before losing 31-24 in Week 1.

KEY MATCHUP

Fresno State’s defensive front vs. UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet and Brittain Brown. The transfer tailbacks mashed an SEC defense for 213 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 28 carries in an impressive 38-27 mauling of LSU. They complement each other well, with Charbonnet providing big plays and Brown consistently moving the chains. Fresno State mostly contained Oregon’s running game before buckling in the fourth quarter when the defense was on the field for 10:29. Defensive end Arron Mosby and defensive tackle Kevin Atkins each have 4 1/2 tackles for loss, and they’ll have to be even more disruptive against the Bruins.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Fresno State: QB Jake Haener has completed 73.6% of his passes through three games for 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception. The redshirt senior faces a pass defense that allowed 330 yards and three touchdowns to LSU.

UCLA: LB Mitchell Agude did it all against the Tigers, getting six tackles, two forced fumbles and one sack. He leads the FBS with four forced fumbles. UCLA’s single-season record for forced fumbles is six, shared by Donnie Edwards in 1993 and Robert Thomas in 2000.

FACTS & FIGURES

Fresno State has won the past three games in the series, including a 38-14 rout at the Rose Bowl in coach Chip Kelly’s first season at UCLA in 2018. … The Bruins have not won a game as a ranked team since defeating Oregon State 41-0 on Nov. 7, 2015. … Bulldogs DB Elijah Gates and OL Alex Akingbulu each started his college career at UCLA. Gates has 12 tackles with two tackles for loss and two pass breakups this season, while Akingbulu has started all three games at right tackle.

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