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Bruins running a play during their annual Spring Game in April. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES (UCLA) BRUINS FOOTBALL
First Season: 1919
All-Time Record: 595-419-37
All-Time Bowl Record: 16-19
Conference Championships: 18
National Championships: One (1954)
Players Taken in NFL Draft: 321
Players Taken in First Round of NFL Draft: 36
Consensus All-Americans: 39
Heisman Trophy Winners: One (Gary Beban, 1967)
The “Solid Gold Sound” of the UCLA Marching Band (BTW: I was a member from 1988-1990) doing their pregame show, including them playing the fight song “Bruin Warriors” – formerly known as “Sons of Westwood”. Courtesy of YouTube (click on the link)
When I look back on my 2018 preview of this football team of my alma mater’s that I wrote on this blog last week,
The number one thing that I took from it, when I think about it, was the goal that I set for these Bruins as they are set to begin the Chip Kelly era three days from this writing…
For UCLA to have, at minimum, a 6-4 record and bowl eligibility when they embark in their 88th Crosstown Rivalry Clash with USC at the Rose Bowl on November 17th.
I stated that if the Bruins have those six wins by that time, then I’ll be encouraged and will consider this season one of progress.
If they have five wins or less, however…
While I won’t exactly consider it another lost season, as it’s Kelly’s first year and subsequently gets a pass as he rebuilds the program,
It will reinforce my conviction that UCLA Football has a long way to go to get to where I desperately want them to be.
And considering the number of injuries already suffered – today’s Los Angeles Times has reported that the Bruins are looking for bodies at linebacker, that position is so thin – and (in particular) the six players suspended for anywhere from one to three games, including needed guys like running back Soso Jamabo, offensive lineman Boss Tagaloa, and defensive lineman Osa Odighizwa,
Plus the report that they have been struggling in trying to find an effective center to snap the ball with consistent success,
It doesn’t exactly spell an instant turnaround in Westwood, as in my brutally honest opinion UCLA may be taking a few lumps this year.
Which is par for the course for any program trying to rebuild after having back-to-back losing seasons.
Members of the UCLA defense stopping a Cal player during their game last November 24th, the Bruins winning on a last second field goal and gaining bowl eligibility that night. Photo courtesy of uclabruins.com
Having said that,
Here are my game predictions for this alma mater of mine, starting with the contests that I see as…
Easy Wins – Kelly and the rest of Bruin Nation can relax a bit in these games as they should get comfortable victories here:
- Arizona State
Wins – They won’t necessarily be easy; in fact, these teams will be a little challenging at least and a VERY tough challenge at most, but I see the Bruins prevailing:
- Fresno State – Any team that goes from 1-11 to 10-4 in one season can never be considered a cupcake. Plus they will, as is usually the case, be EXTREMELY pumped, along with the roughly 15 to 20,000 “Red Wave” fans that will be at the Rose Bowl.
Toss-Up – I have NO idea what will happen in this one:
- Utah – I’d definitely call this a loss if this game were in Salt Lake City, but as it’s at home, and the Utes will be coming off what will undoubtedly be a war against USC to play the Bruins in this Friday night battle, while this game IS winnable for UCLA, I just don’t know.
- Arizona – I just can’t see UCLA winning this one, sadly, because of two words: Khalil Tate. A player who had over 1,500 rushing yards at quarterback and over 3,000 yards total, combined with the Bruins’ extreme lack of success in stopping the run, equals shuddery thoughts from me. The fact that this is UCLA’s Homecoming game gives me a tiny bit of hope as if this game was in Tucson, I’d have it in the column below.
- Oregon – Don’t be fooled by the Bruins breaking a ten-year losing skid over these Ducks last year. Star QB Justin Hebert was hurt then and didn’t play, he’s back now, this game’s in arguably the most intimidating place to play in the Pac-12, and it marks the return of Kelly to his old stomping grounds; You think he’ll get a warm welcome?
Definite Losses – Put these games under the “No Way, No Day, No How, the Bruins will get smashed” column:
OK, AS FOR THE CLASH AGAINST UCLA’s CROSSTOWN RIVALS FROM SOUTH OF DOWNTOWN L.A. ON THE THIRD SATURDAY IN NOVEMBER:
As I stated when I wrote the game-by-game predictions for USC earlier this week,
My biggest tradition on this blog is that I never give any predictions as to who will win…
- The obvious bragging rights,
- The ten points towards the Crosstown Cup,
- The awarding of the Victory Bell (or retaining it in ‘SC’s case) and the right to paint that bell in either cardinal or blue, and…
- The pleasure of wearing your school’s gear, being decked out in true blue and gold or cardinal and gold, for weeks afterward,
Until two days before the Bruins and Trojans kick things off and get things going at (it better be, as I HATE it when it’s a night game!) no later than 5:00 p.m. – preferably 12:30 or 1:00 p.m. – on November 17th.
And I never will.
So for any of my fellow Bruin fans who were eagerly looking forward to me giving a score for that Crosstown Rivalry Clash, sorry.
You will just have to wait 78 days.
As for those games that I have as probable losses, as someone who’s officially been a member of Bruin Nation for thirty years; I was accepted to and began classes at UCLA, fulfilling a lifelong dream, in 1988 – can’t believe it’s been that long,
Though I have to be impartial, objective, realistic, and honest – sometimes brutally so – in this blog for integrity reasons,
I certainly hope I’m wrong and that UCLA beats Arizona and Oregon.
And I also hope to see you at Lot H at the Rose Bowl beginning three days from now; I’ll be at the Alumni Band tent doing my saxophone-playing duties for that great group.
A shot of Bruins at one of the two positions that SORELY needs rebuilding as it has been a factor in UCLA’s recent mediocrity: The offensive line at practice. Photo courtesy of bruinsnation.com