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UCLA vs. Nevada: Bruins look to avoid upset to start Mora's second season

The Bruins look to end their three-game skid from the end of 2012.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nevada at UCLA - Saturday, August 31 7 p.m. p.t. - Pac-12 Network

What's the story? Jim Mora begins his second season of college football, can he regain the momentum that the Bruins lost by dropping their last three games of 2012?

For as much praise that Mora received for turning the Bruins into a Pac-12 title contender in his first year as head coach, the Bruins sputtered to the end of the season with two-straight losses to Stanford and then a blowout at the hands of Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. Still, the excitement for this UCLA football season is as high as it maybe has ever been, can Mora get the Bruins off to a rousing start by taking care of business against perpetually-pesky Nevada.

What's at stake for UCLA? Excitement and buzz about anything in LA, let alone college football can be very fleeting, so the Bruins cannot risk letting that get away at all. A loss here would pretty much bury the Bruins in the first weekend of the season and begin the chiming bells of "Same old Bruins."

What's at stake for the Pac-12? The Wolfpack have played the Pac-12 really well in the past two years, actually beating Cal in 2010 and 2012, and it wouldn't look good for the conference if one of the South Division's top teams either lose to, or have a close game with a middle-of-the-road Mountain West team.

Enemies (Nevada players to watch)

QB Cody Fajardo

One of the best dual-threat quarterbacks you have probably never heard of, Fajardo passed for more than 2,700 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2012 and also ran for an astonishing 1,121 yards and 12 touchdowns. Fajardo is a lot like Wolfpack alum Colin Kaapernick as he can burn you equally with both his arm and his feet and is deadly in Nevada's Pistol offense.

WR Brandon Wimberly

The big (6'3 225) target was granted a sixth year of eligibility due to injury and is coming off a year in which he had 70 receptions for more than 800 yards and four touchdowns. He's the kind of receiver that never loses jump balls and could give UCLA's young defensive backs trouble.

UCLA players on the spot

QB Brett Hundley

Superlatives and praised have been heaped upon the young quarterback the entire off-season and now it's time for him to live up to the hype that he justifiably generated after his huge freshman season. The Bruins are very inexperienced at every other skill position, so it is going to be especially important that Hundley is able to get things going for the Bruins on offense in the first game of the season.

LB Anthony Barr

Another player who has done nothing but receive justifiable praise during the off-season who now needs to live up to the hype. Barr will have to keep tabs on Fajardo and lead a UCLA defense that needs to recover from getting absolutely embarrassed by Baylor.

Why watch?

Hundley and Barr are two of the most entertaining players in the country and this is everyone's first chance to see if Mora can follow up on the success of 2012 and prove that it wasn't a fluke.