It's Saturday and UCLA won the previous Saturday, so if history is any guide, the Bruins are going to go out and embarrass themselves today against Arizona State. Unable to follow a victory with anything than a loss, often in embarrassing fashion (Texas, Stanford, and Arizona), the Bruins take on a very talented, if sometimes undisciplined Arizona State Sun Devils squad at the Rose Bowl. Kick-off is set for 4:30 p.m. PST and the pre-game thread will be up later this afternoon.
While some uninformed pundits are pumping this up as a key game in the Pac-12 South race, as we've said before, it is another meaningless game in the bigger picture of UCLA football. A win will be nice, but to be clear: it will not save Neuheisel's job, and it should certainly not save Guerrero from his years of incompetent "leadership" at Morgan Center.
Only one thing will really bring energy and excitement back to Westwood: Dan Guerrero must be fired or resign immediately. Folks needs to not focus on Neuheisel, because, as we've said, he's done regardless at this point. It's now time to focus on the root of UCLA's problems: the tone-deaf, ineffectual chump running Morgan Center. As we've said on BN (and as many of you, on Facebook, on MexiBruin's petition, and other places across the social media landscape), nothing short of wholesale regime change will suffice.
Before we get to the pre-game thread, let's take a look at some of the bits and pieces of football news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Following up on Achilles' commentary on Guerrero's tone-deaf "blog" treating football like any other program, Fox Sports' Greg Lucas has an article talking the various moves happening across the country that is going to re-shape college football in a sweeping realignment (which the Pac-12 appears not to be participating in this time around). In it, Lucas makes one thing abundantly clear: college athletics and conference alignments are driven by two things: football and money. In other words, as we've tried to make clear to our clueless athletic director, college football is king.
- Turning to today's game, Arizona State's players are coming to the Rose Bowl fired up to play in front of a California crowd. Why? Oh, because many of them come from the Golden State. Never mind the irony of fans from Arizona (and Oregon for that matter) talking smack about how much "better" their states are than California, despite fielding teams with their most talented players being Californians (for example, Vontaze Burfict and Cameron Marshall at ASU, Black Mamba at Oregon, etc.). This game will have a lot of Sun Devils looking for a win in California, in front of friends and family in the Rose Bowl, so the Bruins will have to match their energy if they want to stay in the game.
- One of those talented ASU players from California is their hot-headed, loose cannon wrecking ball at linebacker, Vontaze Burfict. Neuheisel's game plan is focused on the Bruins seeking out the big-hitting personal-foul machine and putting a body on him at all times. That being said, Rick's game plan is also to run, run, run, which will play right into Arizona State's defensive scheme of stacking the box and letting Vontaze go off. We'll see if Prince can make plays with his arm too, because without it, UCLA has no chance.
- In looking at game notes, Bruin offensive lineman Chris Ward is listed as questionable for today's game and will not start, with Rick keeping him on the sidelines before throwing the big man into the mix after he missed practices this week. Having learned a lesson last week (in large part thanks to an enforced suspension), Rick unleashed a more talented young guy (Wade Yandall) on the offensive line, who was a wrecking ball in run blocking against Cal. This week, Wade will get the starting nod ahead of the guy he replaced, Al Cid.
- And just as last week against Cal brought us a family affair between brothers Mychael and Eric Kendricks, this week features another family battle involving one of our linebackers. This time it's sophomore linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (along with freshman walk-on defensive back Erick Zumwalt), who will square off against his dad's alma materr (the elder Zumwalt playing for ASU as a DE in the 1980s) (HT Patroclus). But despite being a Sun Devil, Jordan has managed to flip his old man's loyalties to the Blue and the Gold.
- Also, just in case you missed it, despite being a lame duck, Rick Neuheisel is still going all-out on the recruiting trail, landing a huge commitment in bringing in #13-ranked offensive guard Lacy Westbrook from Dominguez HS in Compton (HT Nestor). It's a big get for UCLA, who is still lagging behind in recruiting this year, but you have to still give Neuheisel a hand for being classy and still going all-out on the recruiting trail although he's in what has to be the last year of his tenure in Westwood.
- Also from the ICYMI department, UCLA QB Richard Brehaut has been cleared to practice (HT Patroclus). Despite that welcome news (a QB who can throw!), Sean Ceglinsky at CBS Sports is reporting that Rick has come out and named Prince the starter for the remainder of the season.
Those are your pre-game Bruin Bites. Sit tight and the pre-game thread will be up in a few hours. For now, feel free to fire away with your thoughts in the open thread or check out the BN previews of Arizona State (here and here) Finally, if you haven't done so already, make sure you get your pre-game guesses in before kick-off at 4:30 p.m. PST on third-rate garbage network Versus.