Texas A&M at UCLA: 5 things you should know

Trevor Knight-Texas A&M-UCLA

Texas A&M and UCLA will meet in Week 1 for the second straight season when the Aggies visit the Rose Bowl on Sunday (7:30 p.m., FOX). Something will have to give, as Texas A&M has won five straight season openers on the road while UCLA is riding a six-game winning streak in home openers.

Five things you should know about this matchup:

1. The quarterbacks

UCLA’s Josh Rosen made headlines earlier this month in a Bleacher Report interview in which he weighed in on college football, academics and took a subtle jab at Alabama. But he’s still one of the nation’s best quarterback prospects.

Despite missing half of last season with a right shoulder injury, the junior threw for 1,915 yards and 10 touchdowns in six games — including 343 yards and three scores in College Station.

Texas A&M’s quarterback situation is a bit more clouded. Coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t tipping his hand, refusing to name a starter from a group that includes senior Jake Hubenak, redshirt freshman Nick Starkel and freshman Kellen Mond.

“We’re happy with our plan,” Sumlin said Tuesday. “We know what we want to do, and we started to work that plan last week. Our team understands what’s going on, and the guys know what’s happening.”

It sounds like he has a plan. He’s just not sharing it ahead of time.

2. Series history

Texas A&M holds a 3-2 series lead over the Bruins, but the teams have never met in the Rose Bowl. Last season, Trevor Knight’s 1-yard touchdown run gave Texas A&M a 31-24 overtime victory over UCLA at Kyle Field.

3. The opening line

UCLA is a 3.5-point favorite on its home field. The over/under is 57.

4. Player to watch

The importance of finding a reliable quarterback goes without saying, but the play of senior defensive end Jarrett Johnson is important to the Aggies’ chances as well.

With Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall now playing in the NFL, Johnson, who tied for second on the team with 4.5 sacks last season, will need to become a bigger factor in terms of rushing the passer in his final season.

Rosen isn’t known for his mobility, so putting pressure on him has to be a focus for A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis.

5. What’s at stake

The pride of the SEC after Rosen’s comments a few weeks ago? Keeping the “Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat” chatter quiet? Take your pick.

The Aggies stumbled down the stretch last season, dropping five of their last seven games. Three consecutive 8-5 finishes in the post-Johnny Manziel era have some fans and pundits grumbling.

This is a national spotlight game, and one that likely will propel the winner into the top 25. It’s a chance to claim the sort of win that can lay the foundation for a successful season.

For Texas A&M, a victory would give it an excellent chance of being 4-0 when it faces Arkansas at AT&T Stadium on Sept. 23 in its SEC opener.

A loss — particularly one in which the Aggies quarterbacks look bad — could be a bad omen for the rest of the campaign.

The post Texas A&M at UCLA: 5 things you should know appeared first on SEC Country.

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