Every year, I look forward to the release of Phil Steele's college football preview. For me, t's kind of like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups of sports mags, combining detailed and thorough analysis with gambling trends and insights. As well as being comprehensive, it's also usually rather accurate as far as preseason mags go.
The issue came out this week, and Steele has UCLA as his 3rd most improved team for 2009 and to my surprise, predicts that they will finish the year ranked #24 in the country. His reasoning includes 16 returning starters and expected improved play from the O-line and QB position. He also believes UCLA won't commit as many turnovers this year (god, I hope not) which will translate into more wins.
Considering that our O-line still needs to get a lot of work together and Prince is a first year starter, this seems like a pretty bold prediction to me. As a point of reference, the #24 team in the final AP poll last season was Michigan State with a 9-4 finish (including a bowl loss). Personally, I would be thrilled if the Bruins were to finish the regular season 7-5 (especially if it included a win over USC) and returned to the postseason.
In any event, I think it's great to see that a respected, national writer sees progress in the development of our football program.