Five things to watch:
1. What’s eating Gilbert?—Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, in his first year as a starter, has yet to get untracked as has the Longhorns offense. Despite playing against marginal defenses the first three weeks, Gilbert has only three touchdown passes and Texas is in the bottom half of the national rankings in passing offense, passing efficiency and total offense. The Bruins hope he doesn’t find himself this week.
2. Let’s get physical—Texas uses a primary defensive line rotation that averages only 263.7 pounds, so UCLA’s offensive line will have about a 40-pound-per-man advantage. The Bruins must try to use that advantage to push around their smaller opponents, if they can get their hands on them. What Texas lacks in size, it more than makes up for with speed and quickness.
3. Run, baby run— It’s strength on strength with UCLA’s rejuvenated run game going against the top-ranked Texas run defense. We’ll find out if the Longhorns run defense, giving up only 44 yards a game, is for real, or a product of playing three teams that didn’t try to run much. We’ll also learn if UCLA’s breakout 266-yard rushing performance against Houston was legit or the result of playing an overmatched team.
4. Takeaway the giveaways —Hidden in UCLA’s victory last week was the fact that they had three turnovers, bringing the Bruins’ season total to 10. Only Ohio, with 11, has more among NCAA FBS teams and that’s not exactly a recipe for success anywhere, let alone in Austin, Tex.
5. Ends of the line—Texas defensive ends Sam Acho and Eddie Jones are a handful and it will be key for the UCLA offensive line two contain them. Virtual twins at 6-3, 260 pounds, the menacing pass rushers are extremely quick and have already combined for 22 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, six sacks and 10 quarterback pressures.