Before we launch into the regular Monday round-up of various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse, let's take another minute to stop and send a huge pat-on-the-back to all of the Nebraska fans that make up the wider Cornhusker Nation, because the way their fans and program greeted our Bruins and our fans went above-and-beyond in terms of class; in the wake of UCLA's tragic loss of Nick Pasquale, Nebraska's response was a striking and wonderful example of humanity at its finest. Second, this Monday round-up is going to be football-focused, with our various non-revenue notes coming to you tomorrow. So with that said, let's take a look at the various bits and pieces from the football-related UCLA-iverse as we get our work week started:
- UCLA's victory over Nebraska wasn't just a huge emotional win, in terms of the end-of-the-season ramifications, it was huge, with the Bruins definitively stamping out a solid win over a tough opponent in a traditionally hard-to-travel-to stadium. In fact, it was impressive enough for Jon Wilner at the San Jose Mercury News to move the Bruins all the way up to #4 on his ballot for the AP football poll, behind only Alabama, Clemson, and Oregon, and finishing just above LSU and Ohio State. While the win did move the Bruins up to #13 in the AP football poll, Wilner (who has been plugged into UCLA's football malaise for the past decade) is striking an extremely optimistic chord, but it's one that UCLA fans haven't seen around their program in a very long time.
- Sticking with yesterday's game, the Bruins' defense looked decidedly mediocre in the first half, but came out with their hair on fire in the second half, completely shutting down and dismantling Nebraska's dual-threat QB and previously-effective offense. All-in-all, it was enough to earn defensive coordinator Lou Spanos the honor of being named coordinator of the week by Athlon Sports. Let's see if Spanos can have his defense firing from the first minute this Saturday.
- Turning to the NFL, a handful of Bruins were in action, but four got notable action. Our own favorite wrecking ball running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, had a tough homecoming in Oakland, as the Raiders stifled Jacksonville's anemic offense, holding MJD (who is working back from an ankle sprain) to just 27 yards on the ground. Everywhere, fantasy football players who drafted MJD remembering the insane impact he used to have on games are burying their faces in their palms right now.
- Jeff Locke, on the other hand, had an outstanding game for the Vikings this weekend. Locke showed everyone why Minnesota drafted him to replace fellow former UCLA punter Chris Kluwe, with the big-legged young Bruin punting 3 times against Chicago, averaging an outstanding 56.7 yards per punt.
- On the defensive side of the ball, the unfairly-maligned Rahim Moore had a solid game for the Broncos this weekend, registering 3 tackles, but more important, defending two passes and making a huge interception against Eli Manning, as Denver rolled past New York.
- But the best game of the weekend for Bruins in the NFL came from our own favorite defensive back, ATV. Alterraun Verner did everything he could to help his Tennessee Titans get past the Houston Texans, making a huge interception near the end of the fourth quarter, and then (just as we so often did against the hapless Cal Bears) taking it all the way to the house for the huge TD.
Alright folks, those are your football-related bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse for this Monday morning as we get ready to focus in on our next opponent, the New Mexico State Aggies (bonus points if you can tell us what an Aggie is, without cheating and Googling it). Fire away in the comment thread with your thoughts, additions, opinions, etc. as we count down to Saturday for our next fix of UCLA football.