Season two for UCLA football coach Jim L. Mora comes with lofty expectations. His Bruins open the 2013 season tonight - ranked 21st in the land - hosting the Mountain West's Nevada Wolf Pack in the schools' first meeting.
Last year, Mora led UCLA to a 9-5 record and Pac-12 South title, including a 10-point win over crosstown rival USC at the Rose Bowl. That win was followed by three straight losses, two of those at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal including a 27-24 loss in the PAC-12 Title Game, and a lop-sided defeat to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl.
The Bruins are favored to repeat as PAC-12 South Division Champions. UCLA returns stars on both sides of the ball in quarterback Brett Hundley and linebacker Anthony Barr. Hundley accounted for 4,095 yards of total offense last year as a redshirt freshman, breaking Cade McNown's single-season school record.
Hundley threw for 29 touchdowns while running in nine more, though he'll hope for better protection from a more experienced offensive line after being sacked 52 times -- 10 more than any other FBS quarterback.
Barr, whose 13 1/2 sacks last year lead all returning FBS players, earned second-team All-American honors in his first season after switching from offense to defense.
First year Wolf Pack head coach Brian Polian takes over for retired Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault inheriting a Nevada squad that went 7-6 last season. The Wolf Pack are coming off their eighth consecutive bowl appearance and were picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West Conference's West Division.
Nevada receiver Brandon Wimberly is set to start his 41st career game and looks to extend a streak that has him catching a pass in every game he's played. His 40 game streak is the longest active streak in the FBS.
This marks the third straight season Nevada has opened on the road against a Pac-12 foe. The Wolf Pack lost 69-20 to then-No. 13 Oregon in 2011 and defeated California 31-24 last year.
UCLA enters the game as a 21-point favorite. Kickoff for the season opener tonight at the Rose Bowl in Pasedena is at 7pm.