TROY IS BURNING.
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:
|1||Florida State (58)||12-0||1,498||2|
|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:
|1||Florida State (58)||12-0||1546||2|
|2||Ohio State (4)||12-0||1462||3|
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.
LOL AT SOUTHERN CAL!