An interesting Pac-12 vs. SEC battle takes place on Saturday when No. 16 UCLA travels to the Lone Star State to take on Texas A&M at Kyle Field. Pac-12 reporter Kyle Bonagura and SEC reporter Sam Khan Jr. take you through the ins and outs of the matchup with a closer look at the two teams.
How to beat Texas A&M: Run right at the Aggies and find out if they’ve improved their run defense, which was their weakness on that side of the ball in 2015. The Aggies have some talented pass-rushers (Myles Garrett, Daeshon Hall) but last season allowed 224.8 rushing yards per game to Power 5 competition. That average was sixth-worst among the 65 Power 5 teams. Defensively, the Bruins would be wise to attack Texas A&M’s interior offensive line right away -- the Aggies plan to start a true freshman at left guard (Colton Prater), a redshirt freshman at center (Erik McCoy) and a sophomore at right guard (Connor Lanfear).— Khan
How to beat UCLA: The formula for A&M -- run right at them -- would have been the same if talking about last year's UCLA team, but the Bruins have spent their offseason trying to rectify that. Now, with a predominantly 4-3 defense and an offense expected to stay on the field longer, their run defense should be much improved. In theory, of course. Offensively, everything starts with QB Josh Rosen, who will be running a new offense for the first time in an actual game. He'll also be working with almost an entirely new group of skill players, which -- new offense and new players combined -- means there's a lot to adjust to. How do you compound those issues? Pressure. And Texas A&M is well-equipped to apply it. — Bonagura
How Texas A&M beats you: The Aggies plan to get the ball in the hands of their talented receivers -- Christian Kirk, Joshua Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones – early and often. There will also be plenty of balance as new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone likes to run out of the spread. Defensively, the Aggies will attack with their athletic, deep defensive line, led by Garrett and Hall (19.5 sacks combined last season) and a secondary that has three talented safeties: Justin Evans, Armani Watts and Donovan Wilson. Wilson (five interceptions in 2015), is the key weapon, someone defensive coordinator John Chavis has compared to Tyrann Mathieu -- whom he coached at LSU -- because of his versatility. — Khan
How UCLA beats you: The Bruins are as balanced a team as there is in the Pac-12. When you look up and down their position groups, there really isn't a glaring weakness. There are some spots of inexperience, sure, but there are three talented running backs -- Soso Jamabo, Nate Starks and Bolu Olorunfunmi -- working to replace Paul Perkins and enough good athletes for Rosen to work with at receiver. The defense is similar: The secondary is among the best in the country and there are several future NFL guys in the front seven. All that is just a way to say that Bruins can win in a lot of ways. However, as coach Jim Mora put it: "We know who butters our bread, and that's [Rosen]." When he's on, UCLA is going to be hard to beat ... and that should be almost every Saturday. — Bonagura
Texas A&M X-factor: How the offensive line fares will play a large role in how well the Aggies end up playing on Saturday. The aforementioned young interior line with freshmen and sophomores is bookended by a pair of senior offensive tackles: Avery Gennesy, last year’s starter at left tackle, and Jermaine Eluemunor, a highly-regarded junior tackle prospect from the 2014 class who played mostly guard last season, but will start at right tackle this year. The group has a new (old) coach, Jim Turner, who coached the Aggies’ offensive line for Mike Sherman from 2008-11. — Khan
UCLA X-factor: UCLA left tackle Conor McDermott could be a first-round pick in the next NFL draft. It's imperative that talent shows up at Kyle Field or Garrett will change the game. — Bonagura
Khan: This is a veteran ballclub on both sides of the ball and a defense that might be top-25 caliber nationally. Kevin Sumlin’s teams typically start the season well (he’s 7-1 in season-openers in his career), and I think Trevor Knight is a perfect fit for Noel Mazzone’s offense. I think the Aggies jump out to a quick lead and hold off UCLA’s late charge to get back in it. Texas A&M 34, UCLA 24.
Bonagura: Mora knows Mazzone and vice versa, but the Bruins' schematic changes provide the edge in what should turn out to be one of the best games of Kickoff Week. Look for Rosen to have a signature performance and get his Heisman Trophy campaign off to a good start in what promises to be a hostile atmosphere. UCLA 35, Texas A&M 31