College Football Top 25, Week 14: Bruins Fall to the Edge at #22

Remember when Myles Jack was a stand-out linebacker that disrupted opposing defenses? - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Following yesterday's deflating loss to a very beatable Arizona State team, Jim Mora's unprepared Bruins continue their two-year trend of late-season swoons, with up-and-coming Southern Cal (#23 in both polls) up next week, and the Bruins falling to the edge of the college football top 25, at #22 in both the AP poll and the USA Today/Coaches' poll.

Myles Jack.  Need I say more?

When I started last Sunday's poll post with that line, Jack was coming off a dominating performance on both sides of the ball, notching 5 total tackles (and creating havoc for Washington's offense) and one pass broken up, all while smashing the Husky defense to the tune of 59 rushing yards and 4 rushing TDs.  And what a difference a week makes.

With Myles Jack removed from the defense by Jim Mora in one of the most bone-headed decisions of this season, the Sun Devils' offense had their way with Lou Spanos' defense in the first half, building a lead that would prove insurmountable for Noel Mazzone's inept, vanilla offense that just looked lost (although not as lost as UCLA's linebacker corps without Jack) except for a few flashes of brilliance.  In a move that not only severely hurt the defense (losing Jack's dynamic athleticism to pressure the QB, chase down Marion Grice, etc.), Mazzone's offense was the same inept unit we've seen all year, even with Jack smashing his way up the middle to grind out 86 yards total.

And with the loss, the Bruins' dreams of returning to the Pac-12 title game in Palo Alto are done, with the Sun Devils clinching the division crown for the first time.  With the loss, UCLA has no chance at a top-tier bowl, and will once again return to the Karl Dorrell Sun Bowl, the DeWayne Walker Las Vegas Bowl, or the Rick Neuheisel I-Didn't-Even-Know-This-Bowl-Existed-Until-Now Bowl.  Most concerning is the fact that Jim Mora's team is once again faltering down the stretch, falling to #22 in both the AP poll and the USA Today/Coaches' poll.  That happens when you lose three out of the last six (and with two of those wins coming in very close games).  If Mora wants to salvage the season, he'll need to win next week against a resurgent Southern Cal team (climbing up to #23 in both the AP poll and the USA Today/Coaches' poll) and close out strong and win whatever third or fourth tier bowl we end up in.  There are no excuses.

Here's the polls, courtesy of our friends at the SB Nation mothership, beginning with the AP Top 25 Poll (which does not count toward the BCS standings):

Rank Team Record Votes Previous
1 Alabama (56) 11-0 1,496 1
2 Florida State (4) 11-0 1,444 2
3 Ohio State 11-0 1,375 4
4 Auburn 10-1 1,294 6
5 Missouri 10-1 1,202 8
6 Clemson 10-1 1,196 7
7 Oklahoma State 10-1 1,177 11
8 Stanford 9-2 1,002 10
9 Baylor 9-1 976 3
10 South Carolina 9-2 960 12
11 Michigan State 10-1 929 13
12 Oregon 9-2 731 5
13 Arizona State 9-2 690 19
14 Wisconsin 9-2 684 16
15 LSU 8-3 642 18
16 Fresno State 10-0 619 15
17 UCF 9-1 588 17
18 Northern Illinois 11-0 470 20
19 Texas A&M 8-3 429 9
20 Oklahoma 9-2 386 22
21 Louisville 10-1 383 NR
22 UCLA 8-3 300 14
23 Southern Cal 9-3 262 23
24 Duke 9-2 135 25
25 Notre Dame 8-3 68 NR
Others Receiving Votes: Georgia 15, Texas 10, Cincinnati 10, Mississippi 7, Nebraska 6, Arizona 6, Minnesota 5, Vanderbilt 1, East Carolina 1, North Dakota State 1

That's right folks: Fresno State is ranked higher than UCLA.  Just like the good ol' Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel days!  Oh, and bear in mind, with Oregon choking in spectacular fashion to Arizona (a team we beat in Tucson, further illustrating why we should have been more competitive against the Ducks), they're out of the BCS picture, meaning they will end up at the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl, further pushing UCLA down the bowl pecking order.

As for the USA Today/Coaches' Poll, it's also not pretty:

Rank Team Record Points Previous
1 Alabama (56) 11-0 1,544 1
2 Florida State (6) 11-0 1,488 2
3 Ohio State 11-0 1,428 3
4 Clemson 10-1 1,289 6
5 Auburn 10-1 1,268 7
6 Missouri 10-1 1,243 8
7 Oklahoma State 10-1 1,225 9
8 Baylor 9-1 1,009 4
9 South Carolina 9-2 1,003 11
10 Stanford 9-2 981 12
11 Michigan State 10-1 962 13
12 Oregon 9-2 777 5
13 Fresno State 10-0 687 16
14 Wisconsin 9-2 661 17
15 LSU 8-3 646 19
16 Louisville 10-1 603 15
17 Oklahoma 9-2 581 18
18 Arizona State 9-2 574 22
19 Central Florida 9-1 512 20
20 Northern Illinois 11-0 459 21
21 Texas A&M 8-3 410 10
22 UCLA 8-3 257 14
23 Southern Cal 9-3 210 25
24 Duke 9-2 203 24
25 Cincinnati 9-2 47 NR

Dropped out: #23 Minnesota (8-3)

Others Receiving Votes: Notre Dame (8-3) 17, Minnesota (8-3) 12, Texas (7-3) 12, East Carolina (9-2) 11, Georgia (7-4) 8, Nebraska (8-3) 7, Louisiana-Lafayette (8-2) 6, Miami (FL) (8-3) 6, Arizona (7-4) 2, Vanderbilt (7-4) 2

Both the Bruins and Trojans sit on the edge of the top-25, meaning that the loser of next week's Battle for Los Angeles is going to fall out of the final poll of the regular season.  For the Bruins, a loss next week will raise a lot of red flags about Jim Mora and the direction of the program, with UCLA suffering two late season collapses in a row and a complete failure to win "the big one" when it counts (those Nebraska wins aren't looking so impressive anymore, with the Huskers falling out of the polls).  No excuses: Mora needs to close out the year strong by beating Southern Cal and winning whatever third or fourth tier bowl game we end up in.

Time to win or go home.

GO BRUINS

BEAT 'SC!

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