UCLA coach Jim Mora leading his Bruins out of the tunnel at the Rose Bowl before a game. Photo courtesy of twitter.com
HOW WE SEE THE RESULTS FOR EACH GAME THAT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES (UCLA) BRUINS WILL PLAY IN 2016
On a personal note regarding my alma mater’s football team, I’ve always began the season adopting an attitude of being optimistic and hopeful of the Bruins’ chances, but realistic and objective at the same time.
One can add that I see this team as being in a precarious position as if any of the key starters goes down, especially quarterback Josh Rosen, then UCLA’s season is pretty much over as their depth is not quite where it needs to be as of yet.
At least compared to the other upper echelon teams in the country.
Having said that, let me go ahead and make my predictions as to how I see each game unfolding:
at Texas A&M, September 3rd: TOSS UP
This is one of those games where if it were at the Rose Bowl, where it will be next year, I’d have these Bruins winning.
Unfortunately the big factor in this game is the Aggies’ infamous “12th Man”, whose job – as it has been since the 1920s – is to stand up for the entire game and make the loudest noises possible.
That will make UCLA’s job difficult in this opener, but not impossible as they have the talent to beat A&M; the Aggies’ defense is good, but they have not been as much of a national power as they have been in the past.
It will certainly be a significant test for the Bruins; if they can overcome 100,000 screaming fans in maroon standing up for the whole game, their chances are solid.
But if they can’t…
UNLV, September 10th: EASY WIN
UCLA has what I consider two “gimme” games, where they are expected to win rather comfortably of not by blowout, on this season’s schedule.
This home opener is one of them.
Put it this way: I fully expect to be heading home after halftime, a few minutes into the third quarter at the latest, knowing that the game is in the bag.
Particularly if these Bruins don’t take this game lightly and put these Rebels from Vegas away early.
Which they should as if these two schools had played each other in basketball during the 1980s and 90s, it would have been an epic match-up.
The Bruin Dance Team, an integral part of the UCLA Spirit Squad, performing at an alumni event before a game. Photo courtesy of flickr.com
at BYU, September 17th: WINNABLE BUT WILL BE TOUGH
Despite the fact that these Cougars from Provo have a new coach and are not expected to set the world on fire, I’ve always had an uneasy feeling whenever UCLA has played them.
That Brigham Young squad will be desperate to avenge that 24-23 squeaker of a loss last year at the Rose Bowl, made possible only by a Myles Jack interception in the last minute.
And in front of nearly 65,000 of their fans to boot.
Like with Texas A&M, the Bruins have enough talent to silence that Provo crowd, but they need to be VERY focused and overcome BYU’s desperation.
Stanford, September 24th: CLOSE LOSS
It hurts to not pick UCLA in this one; I know that this Cardinal team from what used to be Leland Stanford Jr.’s farm has owned the Bruins for the past eight meetings.
No one wants to see Jim Mora’s team end that skid more than I do, but…
Until they are successful in matching Stanford’s front seven and offensive line, which to me is the big reason for this losing streak as those defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champions have simply beaten UCLA by beating them up,
Not to mention stopping likely Heisman Trophy winner Christian McCaffrey,
Though the Bruins will come out hard, giving Stanford a very good battle and making things close at the end, I just can’t see them prevailing.
Arizona, October 1st: WIN
Though U of A has some good players, particularly on offense, UCLA’s talent outshines those Wildcats and will be the reason for a solid win at home.
As Arizona’s defense is a concern for them, I’m looking for Rosen and company to do some big damage as far as getting lots of yardage and scoring lots of points.
A 2016 teaser video made by UCLA, to get Bruin Nation excited for the just-about-to-start season. Courtesy of YouTube.
at Arizona State, October 8th: WIN
The game is in Tempe, so that will be in the Sun Devils’ favor.
But ASU will be inexperienced on the offensive side, especially at quarterback, which will weigh heavily in the Bruins’ favor.
It won’t be as easy as some members of Bruin Nation may see it, but I think UCLA will get a hard-fought win here.
at Washington State, October 15th: POSSIBLE LOSS
These Cougars are SO much improved from a few years ago, when that program in the Palouse was in much disarray and they were getting blown out nearly every week.
That’s especially the case with Wazzu’s offense as Luke Falk is arguably the best quarterback in the Pac-12 whose name is not Josh Rosen; I’ll always remember with bitterness how he beat the Bruins with a last second TD pass at the Rose Bowl.
Combine that with the factor of having to play in the cold of Pullman, and though this game is winnable, it can easily be a “Trip-Up” game.
Winning this one will emit many sighs of relief from me; it will be that tough.
Utah, October 22nd: WIN
Summing up this Ute team from Salt Lake City is fairly straightforward:
A very good defense, led by defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei,
And an offense which will need new starters at all the skill positions, particularly at quarterback and running back, where Devontae Booker will be sorely missed.
I’ve always respected this Utah program as with nine wins in 2014 and ten wins last season, going into their sixth year in the Pac-12 those Utes are an asset to the conference.
Being that this game is at the Rose Bowl and it’s Homecoming, I see these Bruins taking advantage of Utah’s inexperience on offense and winning this game handily.
at Colorado, November 3rd: WIN
I’ve been saying this for the past couple of years:
Colorado’s football team has had more capable players and have performed better over the five seasons since they joined the Pac-12.
It just hasn’t shown on the playing field with regards to results.
And though they gave UCLA a real tough battle, taking the Bruins to overtime before a Brett Hundley touchdown run broke the hearts of the fans at Boulder’s Folsom Field the last time those two teams played there, I just don’t see those Buffaloes playing well enough to win this year.
But they are getting better.
A very nice catch made by a UCLA receiver against Virginia in last season’s opener at the Rose Bowl. Photo courtesy of dailybruin.com
Oregon State, November 12th: EASY WIN
This is the other “gimme” game on the Bruins” schedule as those Beavers are still trying to rebuild their program with a new coach, a new culture, and a new everything else.
Everyone has this Corvallis squad finishing last in the Pac-12 North as the only concern I have about his game is that at this point of the season, OSU will have nothing to lose as they will be likely be playing out the string.
The good news is, knowing Mora that concern will be a very slight one as I’m sure that UCLA’s coaching staff won’t let their players overlook Oregon State, especially considering who they’ll be facing the next week…
USC, November 17th: TO BE DETERMINED
It’s always been a personal tradition to not choose a winner in this renewal of the Crosstown Rivalry until the Thursday before the game.
That will once again be the case this year as the date where I’ll officially express who I see winning bragging rights in this Crosstown Clash and possess the Victory Bell (taking it back in UCLA’s case) will be November 15th.
As always, I’m going to let the season unfold.
at California, November 26th: WIN
Assuming that the Bruins’ season is a good one, especially if they beat the Trojans, this Thanksgiving weekend contest reeks of “Trap Game” odors.
Even though you don’t lose a quarterback who not only broke all your school’s records, as Jared Goff did, but became the overall number one pick in the NFL draft and is playing for a (newly resurrected) Los Angeles Rams team that has big plans for him, and not have it affect you.
However, because of those Golden Bears losing a player who made such an impact in Berkeley, taking them from one win three years ago to a bowl win last year,
As well as needing to replace all of their receivers and most of their linebackers and secondary,
I don’t see these Bruins losing as I think they’ve learned their lessons from those post-USC win hangovers suffered against Stanford in 2012 and 2014.
All right Bruin Nation, that’s how I see UCLA’s games unfolding.
I apologize in advance if there are some objection to these predictions, as I know there are quite a few fans who would like nothing better than to see me predict big wins in all of the Bruins’ games.
Though as a UCLA alum and someone who has been a loyal fan of that football team for nearly 35 years, a 15-0 record and a berth in the College Football Playoff that culminates with a national championship would be wonderful to see.
But I have to take a more objective, realistic, and honest view.
It’s certainly my hope that the Bruins beat the teams that I don’t have down as outright wins.
We’ll just have to see if I’m wrong; I won’t be upset if I am.
The Solid Gold Sound of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, bring back memories as I was a member of this band, playing the tenor saxophone, from 1988-1990. Photo courtesy of uclaband.com