It's Monday morning, and Bruins fans are smiling. Yes, Saturday's win should have been more comfortable (read: stop dropping punts in our own red zone, learn to play defense, etc.) but the Bruins went on the road to Tempe, faced a hostile Arizona State crowd, and beat a resurgent Arizona State team for the first real big road win for UCLA in a long time. For Mora, this win was huge, and for the first time in a long time, the Bruins are bowl eligible in October. It's a feel-good win, not just because our much-maligned freshman kicker, Ka'imi Fairbairn, buried the game winner as the clock expired, but because Hundley keeps improving, the offense can score and be exciting, and a lot of the young pieces we'll need for sustained success in the next few years are really coming around nicely.
But, with a new week comes a new challenge and the Bruins will take on a very tough Arizona squad that just finished dropping the "vaunted" Trojans in the desert. Whether Rich Rod plays his concussed QB, Matt Scott, remains to be seen, but next week's game will go a long way in deciding whether UCLA will return to the Pac-12 title game (and once again face the high-powered Oregon Ducks, who are the hands down favorite to win not just the Pac-12 North, but to make it all the way back to the BCS title game).
So, with that said, let's get to the bits and pieces of news floating around the UCLA-iverse at the beginning of this work week. Here's the Bruin Bites for this Monday morning:
- Starting with our victorious football team, one of the players that is coming back from the desert standing extra tall is our redshirt freshman QB, Brett Hundley. Hundley, an Arizona native, had a fantastic homecoming, leading UCLA with 274 yards in the air combined with four TD passes, all in front of 30 to 40 fans who came out from his native Chandler to see him in action.
- Speaking of Hundley, the young QB took part in a special event the day after beating Arizona State, leading his family in the 2012 Walk to End Epilepsy at the Rose Bowl on Sunday. Despite having just gotten back from Arizona, following a grueling football game in the desert, Brett was still up bright-and-early to participate in the 5K event, even handing out medals to participants. Pretty awesome stuff, both on and off the field.
- Finally, with the big road win in the books, coupled with U$C's collapse at Arizona, the Bruins have edged closer to our cross-town rivals in the AP poll, with UCLA now back at #25 and Southern Cal falling to #18. The Wildcats, however, also joined the Bruins in the poll, checking in at #24, so next week's game at the Rose Bowl will certainly mean one of the two will be dropping out, while the other should be able to climb right next to, if not past the Trojans. It better end up being our Bruins coming out with the W.
- Speaking of rankings, in case you missed it, Ben Howland's squad checked in the AP pre-season rankings at #13, having fallen because of the NCAA investigation and potential ineligibility of Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. Once a lock to be in the top-5 or top-10, the Bruins are looking much more vulnerable with Anderson, Muhammad, and Tyler Lamb (knee injury) out. That being said, this is Ben's year to put up or shut up. He needs to be dancing very late in March or it'll be time to go. It's the No Excuses Tour.
- With baseball season now in the books (well, the Dodgers season came to an end a while ago since, well, they choked), L.A. Times beat writer Steve Dilbeck took a look at Carl Crawford, Los Angeles' newest big-name outfield acquisition, and the rumor that the (former) speedster was offered a basketball scholarship to UCLA. Per Crawford, such an offer was never made, with the outfielder instead opting for Nebraska before instead deciding to turn pro, being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to start the work week with. Fire away with your thoughts, takes, and additions in the comments thread.