This weekend's win made the Bruins bowl eligible, and more importantly, ended UCLA's two-game slide, hopefully setting up Jim Mora's team for a clean run of nothing but wins through the rest of the regular season. Anything less than that will likely cost the Bruins their third-straight Pac-12 South division crown and a return trip to Palo Alto or Eugene for a chance at the conference title.
The Mildcats will be motivated to avenge the beating they took at the Rose Bowl last year, Arizona State has been looking better with each passing week, Coach Zero seems to have Southern Cal back on the upswing (which makes you wonder when Haden will quit messing around and remove the interim label), and Washington is dangerous. But when you look at the roster of each squad, the Bruins have more talent than any of their remaining opponents, so any losses are going to fall on the shoulders of the coaching staff. So, with the Bruins heading into the final stretch of the season, let's take a look at the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse to start off the work week:
- Beginning with last Saturday's game, Colorado did something that no other program has ever done before, including Stanford and Oregon: preventing tackling machine and consensus top-5 NFL Draft pick Anthony Barr from making a single tackle for a loss. No team has found a way to stop the explosive linebacker from picking up at least one tackle for a loss, but the Buffaloes were the first to finally do it this Saturday. Given the opponent, it's just a bit ironic.
- Staying with the game, the Los Angeles Times took note of the return of dynamic running back Damien Thigpen, who ran for 38 yards on just 4 carries, grabbing his first TD in nearly a year after returning from a season-ending knee injury. And it's not just Thigpen who is excited: Mora noted that his teammates are excited that "Thiggy" is back. Let's hope he gets Thiggy with it in Tucson this weekend.
- Speaking of Arizona, the Mildcats are already focusing on on revenging their 66-10 beating at the Rose Bowl from last year, with Arizona players opening talking about having a "bone to pick" with the Bruins. The road to the Pac-12 championship game will run through Tucson so let's hope Jim Mora has some of these quotes taped up to the locker room bulletin board, because our Bruins need to be motivated to come out and punch the Mildcats in the mouth, again.
- Turning to the NFL, former UCLA running back Maurice Jones-Drew continues to be a source of trade speculation, with the explosive runner stuck on the league's consensus-worst team. Apparently, ESPN thinks that MJD would be a perfect fit in New England and is hoping to see the former Bruin head north to run for the Pats, especially since MJD will be able to leave in free agency next year, leaving Jacksonville with nothing in return.
Alright folks, those are your bits and pieces of news from around the football-related UCLA-iverse. Fire away with your comments, additions, thoughts, etc. in the thread as we kick off yet another work week.