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UCLA

Healthier UCLA to face injury-riddled Oregon State, likely in the rain

Healthier UCLA to face injury-riddled Oregon State, likely in the rain

UCLA receiver Stephen Johnson III gives a stiff arm to Colorado safety Jered Bell on a kick return in the fourth quarter of the Bruins’ 35-31 win over the Buffaloes on Oct. 31.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA players get to experience Corvallis, Ore., for the first time in their careers. The Bruins have not visited Oregon State since 2011. They enter Saturday’s game as a 17 1/2-point favorite. Times staff writer Chris Foster examines the game’s matchups and story lines:

The quarterbacks

Every week, UCLA becomes more and more Josh Rosen’s team. The freshman quarterback passed for 399 yards and three touchdowns against California on Oct. 22. Last Saturday, with the Bruins trailing Colorado, Rosen completed two passes for 64 yards on back-to-back plays to set up the game-winning touchdown in a 35-31 victory.

“Josh has had a lot of experiences this year and that does nothing but make him a better quarterback as we go,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “Sometimes it may not be as pretty as other times, but when he has had to make plays for us, he has made those plays.”

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Oregon State’s freshman quarterback, Seth Collins, is expected to sit out a second consecutive game with a knee injury.

Nick Mitchell stepped in last week and handled himself well against No. 12 Utah, leader of the Pac-12 Conference’s South Division. He passed for 204 yards and one touchdown, but he is nowhere near the running threat that Collins can be.

Defenseless

Washington State, known for its aerial attack, passed for 409 yards in a 52-31 victory over the Oregon State. Arizona, known for its running game, ground out 368 yards in a 44-7 win.

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So, even when the Beavers know something is coming, they haven’t been able to stop it.

UCLA has struggled to stop the run, and the Bruins are running short of linebackers because of injuries. UCLA has given up an average of 245.6 yards rushing in five Pac-12 games.

Oregon State’s Storm Woods has 373 yards rushing this season. He ran for 96 yards in a 2012 Beavers victory over UCLA. But the Beavers best runner is Collins, who has 536 yards. They are also without their best offensive lineman: Sean Harlow, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

Off base

Oregon State’s Gary Andersen sounds a lot like a coach starting from scratch.

He spoke this week about building blocks.

“No. 1 is experience, which is so valuable in anything we do, and we’re a young, youthful team,” he said. “No. 2 is we’re not strong enough. We have a hard time stopping the run and a hard time running the ball effectively. When you don’t have the strength, it’s hard to stand in there and say, ‘This is our base offense and this is our base defense.’ ”

Storm warnings

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Besides Corvallis, the Bruins will be presented with another unfamiliar sight: rain.

There is an 80% chance of rain during Saturday’s game.

“I don’t think it will be a factor,” UCLA Coach Jim Mora said. “Both teams play in it and it hasn’t affected us in past when we’ve played in wet weather.”

Nor does playing on the road. Before losing to Stanford, the Bruins had won 11 consecutive games away from the Rose Bowl.

Training room

UCLA is healthier than it was four days ago. How much remains to be seen. Linebacker Deon Hollins (knee), linebacker Kenny Young (head), cornerback Marcus Rios (undisclosed), tackle Caleb Benenoch (leg), tackle Kolton Miller (leg) and running back Paul Perkins (knee) are expected to play.

The availability of cornerback Ishmael Adams (leg) and receiver Devin Fuller (ankle) is questionable.

The Bruins are expected to be without linebacker Isaako Savaiinaea (ankle), linebacker Josh Woods (hamstring) and receiver Stephen Johnson III (undisclosed).

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Chris.foster@latimes.com


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