College Football Top 25, Week 15: Bruins Climb to #17/19, Southern Cal Falls Out of Rankings

We're moving back up! - Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Following last night's complete victory over a depleted yet arrogant Trojan squad led by their ramblin' interim head coach, our Bruins, like Greek heroes of lore, let the Trojans lock them in their home and then burned the place to the ground. With the big win, the Bruins end the regular season ranked at 9-3 and ranked at #17 in the AP poll and #19 in the USA Today/Coaches' poll, while the Trojans fall out entirely.


Finally, after watching the Bruins show up for only parts of games all season long, UCLA comes out and puts together a solid, if unspectacular, 60 minutes of football to dominate the Trojans on both sides of the ball, walking out of the Coliseum with a huge 35-14 victory over the Southern Cal Trojans.  Noel Mazzone answered his critics in a huge way, finally figuring out an offense that suited his personnel, mixing in swing passes with intermediate crossing routes that allowed Hundley to move the Bruins up and down the field.  And while Brett's pocket presence took a big step forward, his touch passes are still off - one extra year will get him from being "one of the top" quarterbacks in the NFL Draft (which could very well mean falling into the second round if Manziel and Mariota both declare) to being "the top" QB in the following year's draft, which would likely come after a serious race to the Heisman.

This win has the potential to be the springboard for what should be a special 2014 season (i.e. 10-11 wins, winning the conference title, and playing in the Rose Bowl, at the minimum), but it now depends on whether Jim Mora and his staff can finish the year strong with a dominating, complete win in whatever third or fourth tier bowl we are likely to land in (following Oregon's continued fall from all-conquering machine into lackadaisical just-enough-to-beat-bad-opponents).  Jim still has some work to do and as wonderful as last night's win was, let's not forget that (i) this Trojan squad was paper-thin due to sanctions and led by a glorified cheerleader who was embarrassingly bad in his last real head coaching stint and (ii) this season still came up short of meeting all three minimum expectations (9 wins, winning the Pac-12 South, and beating Southern Cal), but a dominating bowl win could make that a wash. A lot of reasons to feel good today, but as I'm sure Mora himself will admit, there is still work to do to get UCLA back to being elite.  It looks like we're on the right path, but there are some obstacles our coaching staff will need to navigate to show us they are the right guys to take us to the promised land.

So, with all of that said, let's take a look at how the polls shape up this morning.  Obviously, a lot of movement at the top with Auburn literally shocking the entire college football universe yesterday (pretty sure we all just saw live one of those iconic plays that will be remembered for a very long time), and for our Bruins, we slide up to #17 in the AP Top 25 Poll and #19 in the USA Today/Coaches' Poll (which goes toward the BCS), while (bonus!) the hapless Trojans fall out of the rankings completely.  Here's the polls, courtesy of our friends at the SB Nation mothership, beginning with the AP Top 25 Poll:

Rank Team Record Votes Previous
1 Florida State (58) 12-0 1,498 2
2 Ohio State 12-0 1,418 3
3 Auburn (2) 11-1 1,387 4
4 Alabama 11-1 1,294 1
5 Missouri 11-1 1,281 5
6 Oklahoma State 10-1 1,197 7
7 Stanford 10-2 1,067 8
8 South Carolina 10-2 1,066 10
9 Baylor 10-1 1,020 9
10 Michigan State 11-1 1,002 11
11 Arizona State 10-2 843 13
12 Oregon 10-2 815 12
13 Clemson 10-2 813 6
14 LSU 9-3 690 15
15 UCF 10-1 621 17
16 Northern Illinois 12-0 596 18
17 UCLA 9-3 510 22
18 Oklahoma 9-2 503 20
19 Louisville 10-1 482 21
20 Duke 10-2 348 24
21 Wisconsin 9-3 299 14
22 Texas A&M 8-4 186 19
23 Texas 8-3 156 NR
24 Fresno State 10-1 124 16
25 Georgia 8-4 111 NR
Others Receiving Votes: Cincinnati 45, Southern Cal 28, Miami (FL) 26, Notre Dame 26, Iowa 23, Vanderbilt 16, Washington 6, Minnesota 2, North Dakota State 1

Yeah, so Duke is ranked pretty high and could very well end up being our bowl opponent if they come up short in the ACC title game (pretty tough to see them not getting smoked by Jameis "All Consensual" Winston and the Florida State Seminoles), so be prepared for the inevitable lame basketball-related analogies from the lazy mainstream media if that happens (especially with our hoops teams matching up soon).

Here's how the USA Today/Coaches' Poll shapes up:

Rank Team Record Points Previous
1 Florida State (58) 12-0 1546 2
2 Ohio State (4) 12-0 1462 3
3 Auburn 11-1 1437 5
4 Alabama 11-1 1333 1
5 Missouri 11-1 1315 6
6 Oklahoma State 10-1 1248 7
7 Baylor 10-1 1100 8
7 South Carolina 10-2 1100 9
9 Michigan State 11-1 1037 11
10 Stanford 10-2 1034 10
11 Clemson 10-2 853 4
12 Oregon 10-2 843 12
13 Arizona State 10-2 765 18
14 LSU 9-3 720 15
15 Oklahoma 9-2 660 17
16 Louisville 10-1 625 16
17 UCF 10-1 572 19
18 Northern Illinois 12-0 547 20
19 UCLA 9-3 473 22
20 Duke 10-2 402 24
21 Wisconsin 9-3 266 14
22 Fresno State 10-1 215 13
23 Cincinnati 9-2 167 25
24 Texas 8-3 149 NR
25 Texas A&M 8-4 121 21

Dropped Out: #23 Southern Cal

Others Receiving Votes: Miami (FL) 47, Georgia 41, Vanderbilt 18, Iowa 13, Marshall 13, Southern Cal 10, Washington 6, Minnesota 4, Virginia Tech 4, Notre Dame 3, Ball State 1

All-in-all, this is about where the Bruins deserve to end up given the season, but it would have been better to see them around #14 or #15 in both polls and taking on Stanford for the conference title, but Jim Mora can do a lot to help his cause with a comprehensive, dominating win in our bowl game, and (most importantly) a strong successful recruiting effort of 2014's most important recruit: Brett Hundley.



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