WSU starts Pac-12 play against UCLA

Gordon, Bell ready for the game against the Bruins

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WSU starts Pac-12 play against UCLA

Redshirt senior wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. scores a touchdown against University of Northern Colorado on Sept. 7 at Martin Stadium.

Redshirt senior wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. scores a touchdown against University of Northern Colorado on Sept. 7 at Martin Stadium.

HSING-HAN CHEN | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Redshirt senior wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. scores a touchdown against University of Northern Colorado on Sept. 7 at Martin Stadium.

HSING-HAN CHEN | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

HSING-HAN CHEN | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Redshirt senior wide receiver Easop Winston Jr. scores a touchdown against University of Northern Colorado on Sept. 7 at Martin Stadium.

SAM GRANT, Evergreen reporter

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No. 19 WSU football will open its Pac-12 schedule at home against UCLA at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Martin Stadium for another late kickoff.

The Cougars’ (3-0) previous meeting with the Bruins (0-3) came with a 27-21 WSU win on Oct. 15, 2016 in Pullman.

Despite Cougars owning the previous two wins, UCLA is ahead in the all-time series, leading WSU 39-21-1.

WSU is coming off a road win against the University of Houston 31-24, as the team made a second half push to gain a lead after being down 14-7 going into halftime.

Head coach Mike Leach said that he feels the team gets better each week.

“So we have to get a week better this week,” Leach said.

UCLA is pushing forward after a home loss to No. 5 Oklahoma 48-14. This is the second team in a row that WSU will play that has faced Oklahoma this season.

Regardless of the way that UCLA has presented itself this season, Leach said the team is talented and he knows a lot about the players because WSU tried to recruit a lot of them.

“I just don’t think they’re playing together as well as they’d like to right now, but that can happen anytime,” Leach said.

 Redshirt senior quarterback Anthony Gordon earned the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week Award this week for the second time this season. Gordon leads the nation in passing yards and is tied with Alabama junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa at 12 passing touchdowns and is averaging 441.3 yards a game.

Despite his performance, Gordon credited one of his receivers, redshirt junior Renard Bell.

“Renard is all 160 pounds, but he doesn’t play like that,” Gordon said, “he plays with a lot of heart and a lot of passion and he plays for the guy next to him. Renard is a great team player.”

Bell is one of the 11 targets that Gordon has connected with passing this season and has helped the teams, not just receiving, but blocking as well.

“I’ve been doing it all year,” Bell said. “It’s just the type of player I want to be, I just want to extend plays for my teammates when I don’t have the ball in my hands.”

Bell said he has seen composure from Gordon with him not forcing too many plays.

“He came in with me in 2016 and he’s been doing it ever since, just being a playmaker,” Bell said.

Pullman will have visitors along with UCLA. Former WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew will be in attendance along with the AFCA Coaches Trophy presented by Amway. Both will be available for photos before the game from 5:30-7 p.m.

Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Martin Stadium. You can also catch the game on ESPN for the second week in a row.

This article has been updated to correct AFCA Coach of the Year Trophy to AFCA Coaches’ Trophy, presented by Amway.