UCLA Football Schedule, 2013:
Aug 31 UCLA vs Nevada Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Sep 14 UCLA at Nebraska Memorial Stadium, Lincoln NE
Sept 21 UCLA vs New Mexico State Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Oct 3 UCLA at Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium Salt Lake City UT (*Thursday)
Oct 12 UCLA vs California Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Oct 19 UCLA at Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford CA
Oct 26 UCLA at Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene OR
Nov 2 UCLA vs Colorado Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Nov 9 UCLA at Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tuscon AZ
Nov 15 UCLA vs Washington Rose Bowl, Pasadena (*Friday)
Nov 23 UCLA vs Arizona State Rose Bowl, Pasadena
Nov 30 UCLA at *$c Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles
Dec 7 Pac-12 Championship Game Hosted by team with best record (*Saturday)
Ok, who's meeting me in Nebraska?
Tasser10 is planning on breaking down the schedule in more detail in the next few days. I really haven't thought about the schedule in too much detail just yet, other than bemoaning the Thursday night game on the road, so I'm looking forward to his analysis. In the meantime, here are some general thoughts that I think should apply to next season, and barring really strange circumstances, these are landmarks which I think should always be standard. Easy? No. Championship worthy? Absolutely.
1. Every game is winnable.
I would say this even if we had a game scheduled in Tuscaloosa. Of course, I'm glad we don't. But no game is a guarantee. Ask Appalachian State. Not that we play any D2 schools, right SEC? Anyway, I know the coaching staff and team will approach every game this way, because that's the way competitors looks at things. What I want is for us as a Bruin fan base to look at the games this way. Don't focus on the likelihood that we will win a game. Consider what we need to do to win a game, and then go out and execute it.
2. No dogs allowed
So as I write that every game is winnable, I'll follow by talking about losses. Because while every game is winnable, I know that reality is that we probably won't win every game. Alabama lost to Texas A&M in 2012. Oregon lost at home to Stanford in 2012. We will probably not be favored at Nebraska or at Oregon or at Stanford. So losing a game next season should not be a huge shock and I am not going to give up on the team or coach if we don't run the table. But what will make me really question the team or the coach is if we see performances like we did in 2012 against Cal or Baylor or Stanford I. Those sort of outings are unacceptable. I know we aren't in to moral victories, but you do have to give a fair assessment of a game considering who the opponent is, an if the team passes the eye test but still doesn't win the game, that is a very different thing than the Cal or Baylor games. Show up and play well in every game in 2013. Looking at that Utah game already...
3. Win every game at home
Another easy mindset. Our field. Our crowd. Our locker room. Our advantage. Last year we lost at home to OSU, but no one thinks that game wasn't winnable. We had a key injury and didn't play well and they had a great game plan for us. That's stuff we can correct with depth and better preparation. We also lost at home in Stanford I when we came out flat and that had tons to play for, but we showed in Stanford II that beating Stanford, anywhere, was a reasonable goal. In short, we certainly could have won every game at home, and that should be a yearly expectation. With the imbalanced schedule in the Pac-12, winning every home game will critically important for the Bruins in 2013.
4. Win the Pac-12 South
Well, of course. No one else ever has. The Bruins will have a tougher route to repeating in 2013 with 4 home games and 5 road games in conference, while ASU, Utah, and *$c will get 5 home conference games and 4 on the road. Larry Scott might want to consider fixing that the future, right after fixing the SPTR issue. But the Bruins should be the favorite from the start, and with another year under this program's belt, winning with expectations will be another step that we will want to see from the Bruins in 2013. Then we'll see who shows up in the title game across from us.
5. Beat *$c.
Beating $c should be an expectation every year. There should never be a year when we aren't competitive with those clowns, which tells you all you need to know about the decade of Dan. And especially when you consider what a mess that Haden has over there currently, we should really be licking our chops right now. The trogans just went 7-6 with Barkley and Woods, they were fighting each other in their locker room after their pathetic bowl performance, recruiting is suffering, and they look to be devolving toward outright irrelevance under the leadership of one Lane Kiffin. I hope he stays there for a decade.
6. Finish strong and win a bowl game
This will be a major step from 2012. We recently discussed U.C.L.A. finishing unranked. Personally, the number attached to us doesn't mean a ton. Even if we had finished this year at #25, it wouldn't have lessened the sting or disappointment of the last 3 (well, 2 mostly) games. Consider the excitement and attitude around football when we were 9-2. How does it compare to today, after 2 bad losses and a 9-5 record? On the other hand, being unranked doesn't reflect that the program took some steps in the right direction this year. However, if the teams corrects those errors and closes the season strong, and then plays the bowl game not like a vacation but a final exam, then rankings will take care of themselves.