Kickoff: 7 p.m. PST/10 p.m. EST
Location: Tempe, Arizona - Sun Devil Stadium
Television: Fox Sports 1 (Tim Brando, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft)
Radio: ESPN Phoenix 620/Sirius 91 (Tim Healy, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Doug Franz)
Weather: Thursday calls for a high of 102 degrees and a low of 82 degrees. Should be around 90 degrees at kickoff with clear skies and a 10 mph wind.
What to wear: The university is calling for a blackout so make sure to be in black Thursday night.
Series History: UCLA leads the overall series 18-11-1, the Bruins also own a 9-5 record at Sun Devil Stadium. UCLA has won three of the last five meetings.
UCLA's Season to Date: The Bruins are a perfect 3-0 but it has been far from easy. UCLA struggled offensively in its season-opening victory over Virginia, scoring only one touchdown. The Bruins were aided by three defensive scores to beat the Cavaliers 28-20 on the road.
UCLA then returned home and this time it was the defense that struggled, as the Memphis Tigers put up 469 yards of total offense and scored 35 points in the Rose Bowl. UCLA escaped with a 42-35 victory, but found themselves tied with Memphis in the fourth quarter.
Week 3 saw the Bruins do just enough to pull out a win on a neutral field against Texas (a team that was beaten 41-6 by BYU at home a week prior). Playing without star quarterback Brett Hundley because of an elbow injury sustained in the first half, Jerry Neuheisel threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns in UCLA's come from behind victory. Offensively, UCLA ranks 32nd in the nation in passing yards but 75th in points against.
Arizona State on Offense: The major storyline for the past 10 days has been the loss of starting quarterback Taylor Kelly. The redshirt senior will miss the UCLA contest with a foot injury sustained in the second half of Arizona State's victory over Colorado.
In steps junior quarterback Mike Bercovici, who will make his first collegiate start Thursday night under the lights. Bercovici has completed just 14 passes in his Sun Devil career. However, head coach Todd Graham is not worried about his new starting quarterback.
"Mike's solid. Our team has a lot of confidence in him. I have not had one conversation with Coach Norvell about him," said Graham. "The big thing for Mike is to just take what they give you, use the athletes you have around you, run the system and we have had to adapt the system to him. There are things that he brings to the table that I am excited to see."
What works in favor for Bercovici is the fact that after three games UCLA is tied for 99th in the nation in sacks. The Bruins are No. 105 in the nation in tackles for loss and 76th in pass efficiency defense. The Bruins will also be without starting safety Randall Goforth after suffering a shoulder injury.
"Their scheme is set up for the quarterback to have success running the ball," said UCLA head coach Jim Mora. "Taylor Kelly had done a really good job at that. Nobody is going to scrap their scheme because somebody is in or out. They go fast and they get a lot of plays in and they are physical."
The standout player for the Sun Devils has been running back D.J. Foster. The junior has rushed for 510 yards in three games and is averaging 9.4 yards per carry. Foster is also second on the team with 139 receiving yards on 11 receptions.
"They have a tremendous running back in (D.J.) Foster," said Jim Mora. "I loved him coming out of high school, we recruited him and he's proven to be everything we thought he would be."
QB Mike Bercovici vs. UCLA Secondary: Todd Graham always stresses ball security and this week is no different with a backup quarterback. Bercovici has to be avoid turnovers and be able to facilitate the Sun Devils down the field. The UCLA pass defense allowed Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch to throw for 305 yards and two scores.
Juniors Ishmael Adams and Fabian Moreau have each started three games this season at cornerback for the Bruins. The Bruins are young at safety with freshman Jaleel Wadood and sophomore Priest Willis both will get significant reps on Thursday night.
RB D.J. Foster vs. LB Myles Jack: This is a matchup of two of the most dynamic players in the conference. Not only does Jack star on defensive side of the ball, he is also a running back. Jack is second on the team in tackles and has a relentless motor.
Arizona State on Defense: With all the attention paid to Taylor Kelly, Laiu Moeakiola's shoulder injury has flown under the radar. Although Graham expects the Spur linebacker's to play, the extent he will play on Thursday is unknown and it would be a huge loss to the Arizona State defense as Moeakiola ranks 7th on the team in tackles.
Graham told the media on Monday that Antonio Longino and De'Marieya Nelson will split reps at Devilbacker and it looks like Viliami Latu will get significant reps at three-technique alongside Tashon Smallwood.
"The biggest thing defensively is not giving up cheap plays," said Graham. "Most of the mistakes have to do with assignment issues. I am still trying to find the balance of how much we can do.
"When you are dealing with a lack of experience, you have to figure out how much they can handle. You have to be able to run enough schematics to be successful in this league at this level."
In the secondary, look for Kweishi Brown to start opposite Lloyd Carrington at cornerback with Jordan Simone and Damarious Randall rounding out the secondary.
"I don't think it's in dispute that Todd Graham is a great defensive coach," said Jim Mora. "One of the things that he does very well is during the game, right before the snap, he is able to recognize offensive formations and personal groups and get (Arizona State) in the right defense. They react very quickly. I've never seen anyone as good as he is at doing that."
OT Malcomn Bunche and Caleb Benenoch vs. DL Marcus Hardison and Devil Antonio Longino/De'Marieya Nelson: The UCLA offensive line has given up 92 sacks the past two-plus years with Brett Hundley as their quarterback, that is by far the most give up by any team. UCLA has given up 12 sacks through three games and have recorded just three.
The Arizona State pass rush is not what is was last year, however this could be the game where they break out. The Arizona State defensive line, and particularly the players on the edge, have a chance to really shine on Thursday.
WR Jordan Payton vs. CB Lloyd Carrington/Kweishi Brown: Arizona State isn't the team that will lock down one corner on a wide receiver all game, so Payton will be going against both Brown and Carrington. Payton has 19 catches for 266 yards and a touchdown this year. The junior from Santa Monica, Calif,, is averaging 14 yards per catch and is a dangerous downfield threat for the Bruins.
Despite that talent on paper that UCLA possess, they have not shown it on the field thus far in 2014. The Bruins have won three games this season by a combined 18 points. Their offense was dominated by Virginia and their defense was shredded by Memphis.
There are some who question if Brett Hundley will suit up for UCLA, Mora says as long as he is cleared by team doctors he will play and the Sun Devils are preparing for Hundley to be in the backfield.
Hundley has not torched the Arizona State defense in terms of yards (527 yards in two games) but he has thrown for six touchdowns and just two interceptions. The Sun Devils will also have to maintain another Chandler, Ariz., native in running back Paul Perkins, who leads UCLA with 304 rushing yards.
Final Score: Arizona State 31, UCLA 24