Bumped. - BN Eds.
Despite the fact that most would agree that UCLA has a better overall football program that the Arizona Wildcats, UCLA has historically had great difficulties winning on the road in Tuscon. Given Coach Mora's lack of awareness last season of the similar jinx that the Bruins historically experience on the road at Cal, that fact that UCLA was stung by the Berkeley jinx again last season, and Coach Mora's epiphany after the fact that he was now aware of the issues surrounding UCLA's past history at Strawberry Canyon, I thought it would be prudent to share the facts about UCLA's house-of-horrors experience in Tuscon over the years.
Since Troy Aikman graduated after the 1988 season, UCLA has gone 4-8 on the road against the Wildcats. 2 of those wins featured a UCLA QB by the name of Cade McNown, BTW, so the Bruins are 2-8 in non-Cade games at Tuscon since '89. The first loss post-Aikman was a 42-7 destruction against a Dick Tomey coached team in 1989. The Bruins had their issues in the season between Aikman and Tommy Maddox (Bret Johnson and Jimmy Bonds, anyone?!?!), so that loss is not surprising. What is surprising is the Bruins under-performing in Tuscon against inferior talent, like they have in the more recent past.
UCLA is currently riding a 4 game losing streak in the Sonoran Desert, which started with the 54-14 destruction of an 8-0 Bruin squad led by Drew Olson in his senior campaign in 2005. The Cats were 2-6 going into that game, and finished the season 3-8. Everybody who has been on this site for a while is familiar with that game and how the Cats exposed UCLA as a paper tiger that season. The Bruins were ranked #7 going into that game, and were down 28-0 less than 20 minutes into the game.
The most recent loss in the 4 game losing streak was the 1-5 Cat's beat down of the Bruins 48-12 in CRN's swan song season in 2011, although Arizona was buoyed by the fact that Mike Stoops was fired days before and was led by their interim coach, Tim Kish. This was the infamous Thursday night-brawl-streaker-ref game. Arizona finished 4-8 that season. Before 0-50, many thought that this was the nadir of CRN's tenure.
So, UCLA has a history of losing to poor Arizona teams on the road in Tuscon, what about UCLA's last victory there?
That would have been 10 years ago, in 2003, CTS's first year as head coach of UCLA. Coach Dorrell might have coined the word "Dorrellian" with UCLA's effort in that win. Look up Dorrellian in the dictionary and you might find the box score for this game. The Bruins prevailed 24-21, over an Arizona team that ultimately went 2-10. Zona's Head Coach, John Mackovic, had been fired earlier in the season after losing 59-7 to Purdue, and the Cats were guided against UCLA by interim coach Mike Hankwitz. Notwithstanding the fact that the Cats were truly a team in turmoil (look up the Mackovic controversy surrounding his firing--it was U-G-L-Y), the Cats outgained the Bruins 519 to 333 in the game, and were leading at the half, 21-10. Thank God CTS "remembered" Manny White in that game (unlike in the season opener in Boulder), as he scored a 3rd Q TD to cut it to 21-17. The Bruins still needed a Rodney Leisle 55 yard pick 6 in the 4th Q to pull out a win.
So, what does this all mean?
Historically, UCLA has been embarrassed by far inferior Wildcat teams than the one they will face this Saturday. This Wildcat team comes in with a 6-2 record (3-2 in the Pac-12), just like UCLA's 6-2 record (3-2 in the Pac-12). I know, I know, Arizona hasn't beaten anybody, but, aside from Nebraska, neither have the Bruins. In fact, both teams' 3 Pac-12 wins came against common opponents, Utah, Cal, and Colorado. Interestingly, the Utah and Colorado scores are very similar. Arizona's non-conference opponents were weak, but UCLA's non-conference scheduled doesn't look as good as advertised, with Nevada falling off the face of the earth and Nebraska clinging to respectability due to a play that comes along one in a generation. No need to even mention NMSU.
Arizona will pound the ball with Kadeem Carey. After CU was able to run the ball effectively with a no-name back and a no-name offensive line, how will the Bruins fare against the Cats? Let's hope Eric Kendricks is healthy.
It seems many people are looking past this game to UW @ home, ASU @ home, and Southern Cal. Big mistake. The Bruins have the talent advantage and everyone here expects the Bruins to get the job done on the road, but history can be a b!tch. Let's hope that Coach Mora realizes the history of the Bruins' experiences in Tuscon, realizes the significance of this game, imparts this knowledge to the team, and the team comes out and plays this game like its their last. Because if we get the same effort we've gotten over the last 4 games, the Tuscon losing steak will be 5.