TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 20: Runningback Johnathan Franklin #23 of the UCLA Bruins rushes the football against the Arizona Wildcats during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on October 20, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins start their season on Thursday's opening night when they take on the Rice Owls. Follow @SBNationCFB
The UCLA Bruins begin a new era under head coach Jim Mora when they head to Houston to take on the Rice Owls in a Thursday night contest. UCLA is coming off a disappointing 6-8 season full of calamities, like a demolition by Arizona after the Wildcats fired Mike Stoops and a 50-0 drubbing from its crosstown rivals USC. UCLA is hoping that a new season, a new coaching staff and a new quarterback will help right the ship.
Gone is the Pistol offense that was malfunctioning and decrepit for much of last year. In its place comes Noel Mazzone and the pass-heavy offense he installed so effectively at Arizona State. The quarterback tabbed to run that offense is young Brett Hundley, who passed by seniors Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince to secure the job during fall camp. UCLA is hoping that strong quarterback play can get Johnathan Franklin and the run game going. That way, the Bruins' defense can finally really turn itself loose against its opponents this year.
Its first opponent will be Rice, a team that lost much of its talent along the line, but does have athletes at almost every position. This is a game the Bruins should win, but have dropped in the past. It'll be important for UCLA to get on the right foot on the road before turning around for a home date with Nebraska.
Game time, TV channel: 7:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Point spread: UCLA favored by 15.5 points
For news, discussion and more: More on Bruins football can be found by visitng UCLA blog Bruins Nation, plus Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Owls, head to SB Nation Houston.
Video: Check out this interview SB Nation's Dan Rubenstein did with UCLA head coach Jim Mora at Pac-12 Media Day.
While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many other college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel: