A bona fide star, Mike was the starting right tackle for the University of California - Los Angeles. A three-year regular, Mike is considered UCLA's best lineman by many NFL scouts, and was named first team All-Pac 10, CNNSI.com and Sporting News second team All-America, and AP third team All-America in 2002.
Prior to the 2002 season, he was named pre-season All-America by the Sporting News and Street and Smith's, and was a semi-finalist for the Outland Trophy as the nation's top offensive lineman. His jersey, No. 65, is one of only three replica Bruin jerseys sold by UCLA and his jersey is featured in the Los Angeles area.
UCLA finished the regular season with a record of 7-5 (4-4 in conference). Considered by many to be the best prep offensive lineman in the country coming out of high school in 1997, Mike allowed only one sack in his three years as a starter. Mike was a high school All-American and a member of the Prep Star Dream Team. Saffer redshirted his freshman year in 1998. The following year, Mike started all seven games he appeared in as right guard (he was injured twice during the season) as UCLA had a disappointing 4-7 record.
In 2000, Saffer started all 12 games for the Bruins, who went 6-6 including a 21-20 loss to Wisconsin in the Sun Bowl. In 2001, a redshirt junior, Saffer was outstanding as he switched from guard to right tackle and the Bruins finished the season with a record of 7-4 (4-4 in conference). He was named second team All-Pac 10.