It's Saturday on this long holiday weekend and while our spouses, friends, and family are out shopping during the holiday crazy season, we'll be glued to our televisions, at the Rose Bowl, or tuned in on the radio as our Bruins take on the high-flying Stanford Cardinal this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. PT. The Bruins have already clinched their spot in the Pac-12 title game, and there are folks suggesting that it might be better for the Bruins to let today's game slide to ensure we face Stanford in Palo Alto as opposed to Oregon in Eugene. Fortunately, we (and Coach Mora) think that sucks: our Bruins are here to win the rest of the games this season, regardless of whether it's against Stanford or Oregon.
Now, in case you're still confused as to the various tie-breakers, as discussed on Thanksgiving's edition of Bruin Bites, here's the scenarios for the Pac-12 title game:
If Stanford beats us today: we will play the Cardinal in Palo Alto on Nov. 30 regardless of the outcome of the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State.
If we beat Stanford today, and Oregon beats Oregon State: we will play the Ducks in Eugene on Nov. 30.
If we beat Stanford today, and Oregon State upsets the Ducks: we will play Stanford at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 30.
With that out of the way, let's turn to the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Peter Yoon from ESPNLA wrote a long post about why Jim Mora is "likely to be a Bruin for a long time." He wrote the piece to quash some of the rumors that have been floating around in message boards about SEC programs like Tennessee, Arkansas or even Auburn going after Mora. It doesn't take much to laugh at those rumors and Yoon dismisses them pretty easily by making the obvious points about Mora's Southern California roots and his wish to "set some roots." He also added that the only other destination Mora could be interested in his alma mater which at the moment is set with Steve Sarkisian (LOL). That said, we aren't all that worried in general. We hope UCLA will be sane enough to make sure it provides Mora with increased budget so that he can keep the current coaching staff intact. But at the same time we are not going to get too attached to Mora and make the same mistakes many of us did by thinking coaches like Bob Toledo or Ben Howland were the answers when they are making their respective runs to the Rose Bowl and the Final-4.
- Yoon also posted "five things to watch" in this afternoon's game. While Stanford has put a lot of heat on QBs this season (averaging 4 sacks per game, ranked number 2 in the nation) they are "vulnerable against the pass," as they have given up "257.09 yards passing per game to rank No. 89 in the country in pass defense." So this could be a game for Hundley to take another step forward in his ongoing redshirt freshman season, which has already been the most memorable for any first year UCLA QB.
- Ryan Kartje from the OC Register also raves about the "physical" and "disciplined" Stanford offense in the OC Register. Kartje points out that just teams - Arizona and Oregon State - scored more than 17 points against the Cardinal, adding "if it weren't for the 48 points the Wildcats put up on Stanford, the Cardinal's opponents would be averaging just 12.7 points per game." Well UCLA does have a spread oriented attack like Arizona. So there is that.
- As for perspective from the Bay Area, Jon Wilner, the former UCLA beat reporter for the Daily News, who now reports and blogs for the San Jose Mercury News, continues to show ZERO respect to the Bruins. Earlier in the week, he picked the Bruins to end up in the Las Vegas Bowl (despite the Bruins winning 9 games and beating Southern Cal to date). He followed it up by picking Stanford to win this afternoon's game by concluding, "when it's close down the stretch, one team is much more likely to make big plays and avoid big mistakes. Pick: Stanford." Okay then.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites to get this Saturday morning of college football started. Kick-off is slated for 3:30 p.m. PT on Fox, and we will have our usual set of game threads up for the game. For now, this will be our morning college football open thread. There are some big rivalry games to take in before our kickoff at 3:30 pm PST:
- 9:00 AM Michigan at Ohio State (ABC)
- 9:00 AM Georgia Tech at Georgia (ESPN)
- 9:00 AM Virginia at Virginia Tech (ESPNU)
- 12:00 PM Oregon at Oregon State (Pac-12 Network)
- 12:30 PM Auburn at Alabama (CBS)
- 12:30 PM Florida at Florida State (ABC)
- 12:30 PM Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (ESPN)
- 12:30 PM Wisconsin at Penn State (ESPN2)
Get fired up and fire away with your thoughts, comments, etc. in the open thread below.