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ASU Football: Behind Enemy Lines with Bruins Nation

You've heard what we at House of Sparky think of the game. What about what writers from UCLA think?

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

We can go into how big this game is tonight, but you've heard it all from us. So instead, we turn to our sister site at Bruins Nation, and their writers JoeBruin15, Bellerophon, gbruin and Patroclus, who were nice enough to join us and give us their take.

HOS: It seems as if Hundley will play, what have you heard and what do you make of the gamesmanship from UCLA coach Jim Mora in closing practices?
JoeBruin15: All I've heard is what Mora said about there no updates on Hundley's situation. On one hand, it's typical of how Mora has reacted in the past and I don't blame him. Unlike in the NFL, which requires weekly injury reports, there are no injury reports required in college. By not disclosing the status of Hundley's injury, it should force Arizona State to prepare for both Hundley or Neuheisel instead of just one of them.
Bellerophon: I don't like the gamesmanship, but we're here to win, not make friends.  Until the Pac-12 has a rule in place re: injury reports like the NFL, I think it's fine for coaches to engage in that kind of gamesmanship.

HOS: Arizona State has Arizona, UCLA has USC. Do you view this as a budding rivalry in the Pac-12, especially considering the last two years?
JoeBruin15: I'm not sure that I see this as a "budding rivalry", per se. Is it an important game? Absolutely. Last year, losing to ASU cost the Bruins the Pac-12 South, but I don't necessarily see the game as the rivalry some are talking about right now.
gbruin: It may have become our second most important rivalry game in the conference.  It has certainly gained a lot of importance considering the last two seasons, where the winner of the matchup won the Pac-12 South. Fortunately, to a degree, the matchup lacks the outright hatred the other two rivalry games carry, but this game feels more important than any other Pac-12 opponent not named Southern Cal. 

HOS: It was supposed to be the final showdown between Hundley and Taylor Kelly. How does the game plan change for UCLA with Mike Bercovici under center for the Sun Devils?
Bellerophon: I think the Bruins have to stack the box and take away the Sun Devils' run game.  Make the back-up QB beat us.  When he does drop back, we need to blitz with some more exotic blitz packages, which should really confuse a guy with not a lot of in-game experience. 
gbruin: Taylor Kelly killed the Bruins with his mobility last year and his presence always created a big issue for the defense. With Bercovici, I think the Bruins will have the advantage of being able to devote a lot more focus to DJ Foster without worrying that the quarterback is going to run wild if he isn't accounted for.

HOS: Everyone knows who Hundley and Myles Jack are. Who are some other Bruins that could give Arizona State fits?
Patroclus: I am interested to see more from Jaleel Wadood, our true freshman safety who cracked the starting lineup against Texas due to Randal Goforth's injury. Ishmael Adams has had a big impact in the secondary, but he is as much of a weapon as a punt returner. On offense, I haven't heard or seen much hype around Kenny Walker, but he is the one real speed threat that we have right now - with a 62-yard TD catch against Memphis providing a hint of what he is capable of as he returns from a knee injury that caused him to miss the 2013 season.
JoeBruin15: Offensively, Paul Perkins has really emerged as our starting tailback. He had a great game in Dallas against Texas and I look for a strong follow-up on Thursday. Defensively, Eric Kendricks and the man-beast Owamagbe Odighizuhwa (say it three times fast!) will look to slow down D.J. Foster.

HOS: With Randall Goforth out, how does that affect the secondary?
Bellerophon: It's a big blow because he's very experienced and one of the vocal leaders of the defense.  Goodman is going to be a very good player for UCLA in the future, but he still lacks experience - something that a team with an experienced, top-tier QB could easily exploit.  Fortunately for us, yours is injured.  Against Oregon, I'd be really worried.
JoeBruin15: Look for some younger guys to step up. Guys like true freshman Jaleel Wadood and Tahaan Goodman played a big role against Texas and should do the same on Thursday night.

HOS: What's the general hype around Westwood amongst fans like this week? Are fans looking at this as a redemption game for UCLA? How well do you expect the Bruins fan base to travel?
JoeBruin15: Much of the preseason hype has dampened, but everyone has been waiting for UCLA to have a statement game. Now would be a great time for that, but I expect a close game, based on our first three games. Here's the thing that sucks about Thursday night games: people have to go to work on Friday. So, where a lot of Bruin fans may have made the trip to the Valley of the Sun for a Saturday game, I would expect very few fans to travel for a Thursday night game. I thought the same thing when I saw next year's schedule which has us playing at Stanford one Thursday and at home against Cal the next Thursday. This isn't Conference USA or the AAC. The Pac-12 Conference needs to dump these weeknight games.
Patroclus: I think the hype aspect of this question has been addressed. On travel, while the Bruins residing in the Valley of the Sun will make a good showing, I don't imagine the overall showing will be that strong. That's nothing against ASU, our fan base's dedication, or the importance of this game, but a result of UCLA's early schedule that has featured a pair of big road games in the past month, including our game at Texas less than two weeks ago. Add in the reality that a Thursday night game plus Arizona in September isn't going to draw in fans who might otherwise take a one-night trip to the game.

HOS: How do you think this game shakes out, and do you think the winner eventually wins the Pac-12 South?
Bellerophon: I think the Sun Devils play the Bruins real close and real tough, but I think losing Kelly is the difference.  I'd give the game to UCLA by a touchdown and I'm confident that the winner of this game has the inside track to win the Pac-12 South.  Southern Cal may bounce back, but with Seven-Win Sark in charge, I doubt it.  Graham knows what he's doing - he can coach (which is why we hope he ends up wandering off to another program as he has been apt to do in the past . . . maybe Michigan will come calling after this year!)
gbruin: I hope so, because I like the idea of ASU and UCLA dominating the South division. I think if Hundley plays and is effective, and if Mazzone keeps things simple and efficient, and especially without Will Sutton and Carl Bradford wrecking everything, the Bruins can more effective on offense. With Myles Jack at linebacker and Taylor Kelly unfortunately on the sidelines, I think the defense gets off the field more consistently and doesn't dig such a deep early hole as last season. Of course, there are a lot of conditionals in that scenario.