It's Saturday, and it's time for some Bruin football. The Bruins return home to the Rose Bowl to take on their fellow conference patsy, the Washington State Cougars. Game time is at 7:30 p.m. PST on FSN. Rick's team stands at 2-3 and tonight's game kicks off a slate of games (Washington State, Arizona, Cal, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado) where Rick absolutely must win 5 out of 6. Of those games, only Arizona State should be a toss-up. They're a talented squad, but undisciplined and error-prone, and we're getting them at the Rose Bowl. Every remaining team on that six game run is a team, that with the talent UCLA has on its roster, should beat.
Failure to do so will be a major strike against Neuheisel returning next year. As we saw against Stanford, there is talent on this roster. The excuses from the Neuheisel sycophants need to end. If Rick fails to win today, he's toast. His tenure as UCLA's head coach is on life support and he'll need to meet the reasonable expectations laid out to earn himself another year at the helm in Westwood.
The pre-game thread should be going up around 2 p.m., but before we get to that, let's take a look at some of the bits and pieces of football news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Hack journalist Chris Dufresne at the L.A. Times is part of the group of morons who re-adjust and lower their expectations for UCLA football as the season has spiraled downward, claiming that a six-win season will be enough to save Rick's job in multiple places. Negative Chris: anything short of 8-4 will be a failure for Rick's fourth year in charge. We are not spineless worms like you and will not continue to accept UCLA football's diseased culture of mediocrity.
- ESPN's Ted Miller has a somewhat better handle on the situation in Westwood, writing that the way UCLA's players come out and play against Washington State will be a telling indication as to whether this team has given up on Rick and are waiting out the season for a new head coach. While Miller says it's "unlikely" Rick will survive into next season if he loses tonight, I'll say this: if Rick loses tonight, he is toast. That will be the death knell of the Rick Neuheisel era in Westwood. Losing to this bargain-basement program from the middle of nowhere Washington is absolutely inexcusable for UCLA, especially with the talent on this roster.
- If Rick is going to pull out a win tonight at the Rose Bowl, he'll need to be more than one-trick pony with the running game. Washington State learned a valuable lesson against the Bruins in last year's loss, where UCLA ran rampant over the Cougar defense. Don't expect the Cougars to roll over so easily for the run now, so Rick will need to mix it up and let Brehaut open up the offense and get the ball into the hands of playmakers like Randall Carroll, Josh Smith, Shaq Evans, and of course, Big Joe Fauria.
- Also, former UCLA assistant and defensive line coach Todd Howard will be making his first return to the Rose Bowl since Neuheisel fired him last season, this time as Washington State's defensive line coach. Don't be surprised if there is some extra motivation from Howard and his unit to stick it to Rick in front of the UCLA home crowd and get himself a bit of redemption. The irony is that, even without Howard, our defensive line is still terrible, getting zero pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Facepalm.
- Turning to the game tonight, on the injury list, the Bruins will be without Sheldon Price and Alex Mascarenas, who both did not practice this week and are not expected to suit up tonight. A thin UCLA secondary will have hot-hand Washington State QB
- Finally, Chris Foster at the L.A. Times took note that Rick is 8-0 in his career against Washington State. That makes sense, because, well, Washington State is a second-tier program in a remote corner of Washington. There is no excuse for a program with UCLA's (former) pedigree, wealth of talent, and natural advantages, to ever lose to these guys. None. If Rick fails to make it 9-0 against the Cougars, he's toast.
Those are your pre-game Bruin Bites. Sit tight and the pre-game thread will be up this afternoon. For now, this will be our morning college football open thread for those of you watching other games.
If you're a Bruin not in Southern California, we have all the latest information on where to watch the game with fellow Bruins here. If you're anywhere remotely close to the greater Los Angeles area, you should be at the Rose Bowl in blue and gold. No excuses. If you haven't done so already, make sure you get your pre-game guessess in before kick-off at 7:30 p.m. PST.