Wow, going to work on Monday is a lot better when the Bruins pull out a big victory during the weekend, wouldn't you agree? I'm sure many of us are still basking in the awesomeness of UCLA's victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, which featured over 600 yards of total offense against their vaunted "Blackshirts" on defense. But, we need to adopt the same mindset that Jim Mora is imposing on this football team: it's Monday, so it's time to get back to work. But, for us, it'll be a work week of eager anticipation to see if our Bruins can keep the momentum up against Houston this Saturday.
Don't forget, Neuheisel pulled out some big-time wins too: beating Tennessee in both 2008 and 2009, beating Texas in Austin in 2010. Yet, those Bruins always found a way to falter in a follow-up game that the Bruins should have won (the 59-0 beatdown in Provo followed the 2008 Tennessee win, UCLA got thumped by a mediocre Cal team two weeks after the 2010 Texas win). Houston will prove a true test of whether this team has bought into Mora's tough-talking, hard-working, one-week-at-a-time mantra. So, with that said, let's turn to the various bits and pieces of news floating around the UCLA-iverse to get the work week started:
- Starting with, of course, football, former Ohio State and Heisman-winning running back Eddie George, along with former Oregon QB Joey Harrington, put Chianti Dan on blast in the nationally televised pre-game Fox broadcast prior to our game against Nebraska. George called UCLA's woefully inadequate facilities "inexcusable" (which got love from former UCLA safety Tony Dye) with Harrington mocking the fact that UCLA has to practice on an 80-yard field, while U$C has a gorgeous new athletics facility. Harrington channeled BN and fired a shot right at Gene Block and Chianti Dan, telling the national television audience that you have to invest in facilities if you're going to keep your programs near the top, to keep up with Oregon and U$C. If you happen to have the captured the video, feel free to share it!
- The Bruins finally seem to be turning some heads on the national scene, with UCLA breaking into the top-25 in both major polls (as noted earlier, #22 in the AP, #23 in the USA Today). Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News, an AP poll voter, actually has UCLA much higher, putting the Bruins at #16, just behind Clemson and ahead of Oklahoma. Wilner himself acknowledged that the Bruins are a team quickly discarding the preseason views of what this team would be, putting up a pair of excellent results.
- Likewise, Stewart Mandel at Sports Illustrated took note of the Bruins' impressive performance, noting that UCLA had more yards against Nebraska's Blackshirts than any other team since 1956. Of particular interest, as Mandel notes, is that the Bruins' offense has surged under new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, jumping from 72nd in total offense last season to third nationally in total offensive yards.
- Turning to the local news scene, the Los Angeles Daily News took note of Larry Scott being at the Bruins' home-opening win against Nebraska, during which Scott discussed the possibility of the conference switching from a nine-conference game format to a eight-conference game format. Scott, who has revolutionized the way the conference does business since he took over from Chianti Dan clone Tom Hansen has to be pleased with what he's seeing from Jim Mora and the new-look Bruins.
- Turning to our non-revenue sports, the defending national champion and currently #3-ranked women's volleyball team traveled to Hawaii this weekend for the Verizon Volleyball Challenge. The Lady Bruins got the weekend started right by easily sweeping aside Idaho on Friday, 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-13). The Bruins were led by Rachael Kidder (11 kills, 3 digs), Tabi Love (11 kills), and Becca Strehlow (37 assists, 8 digs). On Saturday, tthe Bruins put down San Diego State in a clean sweep, 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-18), with Rachael Kidder (13 kills, 4 digs) and Karsta Lowe (10 kills) leading the way. Megan Moenoa came in with a solid game, distributing 26 assists (to go with 4 digs and 2 kills). Finally, on Sunday, the ladies finished their weekend against #9-ranked Hawaii, dropping the Rainbow Wahine in four sets, 3-1 (28-30, 25-16, 25-17, 25-21). The Bruins were led by Tabi Love, who had an outstanding performance (26 kills, 5 blocks), with big games from Rachael Kidder (16 kills, 12 digs, 3 blocks), Megan Moenoa (44 assists, 2 kills, 9 digs, 6 blocks), and Bojana Todorovic (20 digs, 6 assists). With the victory, the Bruins now find themselves at 6-1, and will return home to Westwood to take on #12-ranked Pepperdine on Wednesday.
- For the #14-ranked men's soccer team, the weekend brought them a solid clean sweep at home, beginning with a tight 1-0 victory over Tulsa on Friday. Joe Sofia gave the Bruins the winner in the 44th minute, nodding home a beautiful header, while true freshman Juan Cervantes, filling in for injured starter Earl Edwards, played huge in goal, notching 5 saves to pick up the clean sheet and give the Bruins the win. On Sunday, the Bruins looked on the road to defeat to #11-ranked UC Irvine after the Anteaters grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 71st minute. But, UCLA stormed back, with Fernando Monge scoring in the 83rd minute to knot it up at 1-1. Not satisfied with a tie, the Bruins continued to press, and Max Estrada swept home the winner for the Bruins in the dying minutes of the game, netting in the 87th minute to bring up a 2-1 victory for UCLA. With the weekend wins, the Bruins are now 3-1-1 and will take on LMU next Sunday.
- Their female counterparts on the top-ranked women's soccer team did not have as successful of a weekend, with the Bruins suffering their first slip-up of the year, being held to a 1-1 tie against unranked Loyola Marymount on Friday at Drake Stadium. After falling behind to a LMU goal in the 27th minute, Kristiana Konkol-Mroczkowski picked an opportune time to open her UCLA goal account, picking up her first collegiate goal in the 49th minute. The Bruins turned to #20-ranked Tennessee on Sunday, and they picked up their game, slipping by the Lady Volunteers, 1-0, with Rosie White bagging the winner in the 54th minute. The ladies now stand at 5-0-1 on the season and will next face Princeton next Friday at Drake Stadium.
- Finally, the #2-ranked men's water polo team went to the East Coast this weekend for the Princeton Invitational and the Bruins showed them how water polo is played on the Best Coast, slaughtering almost every opponent they faced, picking up five victories in just two days' time. On Saturday, the Bruins started their triple-header off right, putting Fordham down 22-0, with Griffin White (5 goals) and Lucas Reynolds (4 goals) leading the way, with a baker's dozen of Bruins getting on the scoresheet. Later in the day, UCLA picked right up, putting George Washington down 22-4, with Bret Lathrope (4 goals) and Griffin White (3 goals) two of the eleven UCLA players to find the back of the net. The Bruins ended the day by blitzing Johns Hopkins, running out to a 10-1 lead after the first quarter on their way to a 21-4 victory, with Joey Fuentes, Josh Samuels, Danny McClintick, and Daniel Lenhart each scoring a hat-trick. On Sunday, the Bruins faced #18-ranked Brown, but the Ivy Leaguers couldn't keep up, as the Bruins pulled out a 14-8 win. Griffin White led the UCLA charge with four goals, while Josh Samuels, Aimone Barabino, and Chris Fahlsing each notched a brace. Finally, the Bruins closed out their tournament against #13-ranked Princeton and the hosts got spanked, with the Bruins winning comfortably, 20-3. Griffin White and Josh Samuels each scored four (White finishing with18 for the tournament), with eleven different Bruins scoring. With the clean East Coast sweep, UCLA now stands at 8-0 for the year, and will head to Palo Alto for a much bigger challenge in the NorCal Tournament next weekend.
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.