Breeding hopelessness out of optimism.
UCLA football is poor in October. The last two games have reminded me that the team under performs during October. I don't want to even look at November, as CTS couldn't win a coin toss in November if it was best of 7, and that would throw the curve way off. It's a simple fact that UCLA has not been a particularly good team after September, at least in the last decade.
The game last night was frustrating. Yes, the defense shined, as Cal couldn't move the ball well. And it's hard to find fault with the QB play when he throws for over 400 yards (although he holds the ball too damn long for my taste sometimes). But it was a crummy 27 point win. Thank goodness the east coast heavy pollsters likely didn't see the game, and will look no further that the score when casting their ballot.
I offer no explanation. I don't get it! Some might point to the school quarter beginning around this time, but certainly student athletes attend class at other universities (student being the operative word - this qualifier may eliminate some private schools or conferences below the Mason-Dixon Line).
The following is some data I check out this morning out of curiosity. I became more obsessed with the information as I looked deeper. UCLA has played 56 games through October since 2006. I threw out anything before then because A) 2005's aberration throws off my result (of course I'm trying to get the result I want), and B) Wiki data only goes to 2005 and I didn't feel like looking further. So this is a bit of cherry picking in that regard, but whatever (Valleygirl accent).
Since 2006, in those 56 games, UCLA is 28-28. That stands to reason, as this has been a mediocre team for these 7 seasons. Prior to October, the Bruins are 19-9. In the month of October, they are 9-19.
I wondered if the reason was that the out of conference teams were patsies. Not so much. UCLA played 21 OOC games in that period, 19 of which were prior to October (2 games against Notre Dame played in October). So who were the opponents in these 21 games?
2006 - Utah (PAC 10 at that time), Rice, Notre Dame
2007 - BYU, Utah, Notre Dame
2008 - Tennessee, BYU, Fresno St
2009 - San Diego St, Tennessee, Kansas St
2010 - Kansas St, Houston, Texas
2011 - Houston, San Jose St, Texas
2012 - Rice, Nebraska, Houston
21 opponents, who played in 13 bowl games. The record of these combined 21 opponents during that period was 197-151. So UCLA hasn't padded it's early season with lousy OOC opponents. All but 2 games in October are conference games. Viewed from that direction, UCLA's conference record in October since 2006 is 9 - 17. That sucks!
I'll take the win last night. It's better than the alternative. To mix my metaphors, a slow roller that dies between home and third looks like a line drive in the box score. But damn!!
Bruins Nation has helped my recovery from apologist to determined fan. Lousy mid season performance is an issue that I want to see fixed, and starting now! I can actually live through the stupid penalties. CTS's teams didn't commit lots of penalties. What I can't accept is mid-season malaise. 2 times in my fandom, UCLA has been ranked #1 in at least 1 poll. In both instances, they went out and lost that very week to shitty teams.
Chuck Yeager writes in his book that when a green fighter pilot asks the wing commander what he should do if he is jumped by multiple enemy fighters, the response is "Rejoice, laddie! That's what you're here for!" I hope to see UCLA football perform with that kind of enthusiasm in October moving forward.