Stanford's David Shaw, UCLA's Jim Mora downplay early kickoffs

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For fans of Stanford and UCLA, anything caffeinated is likely to be the pre-game beverage of choice as the Cardinal and Bruins have rare early kickoffs this Saturday. UCLA's visit to Nebraska and Stanford's clash with Army begin at noon Eastern, 9 a.m. Pacific back in Los Angeles and Palo Alto.

Both head coaches, Jim Mora of UCLA and David Shaw of Stanford, played down any potential body clock concerns.

Mora cited UCLA's early schedule during the season, including 5:45 a.m. weight-lifting sessions and 7 a.m. practices.

"We're kind of an early-morning team as it is," Mora said during the Pac-12 coaches teleconference Tuesday. "Had we been a team that practiced at 4 in the afternoon and did things in the afternoon, it might be more of a concern."

For Stanford, which does practice in the afternoon, Shaw said some "minimal" adjustments will be made in the 48 hours preceding the game.

"But to be honest these are 18-20 year-old kids and it's going to be game day and they are going to be fired up and ready to go," Shaw said. "These kids, they'll pop up in the morning and be ready to go."

Recent history, however, indicates that might not be the case. Pac-12 teams have played five games that are the equivalent of a 9 a.m. Pacific start since 2008 and have a 1-4 record. Stanford was involved in another early game, a 31-14 loss at TCU in 2008 that was moved up to noon Central because of the possibility of inclement weather from Hurricane Ike.

That is worse than the 28.3 winning percentage (13-33) of West Coast NFL teams playing in games that start at 1 p.m. Eastern over the same time frame, but teams at least have more familiarity playing in such circumstances.

Shaw might have to make a call to his old boss, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, for some advice. The Niners are the only team with a winning record in such games over the past six seasons.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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