And, here is the last part of our 3 parts conversations with Scout.com's Brandon Huffman, in which Brandon gives us his thoughts on the state of UCLA's OL, whether there is another talent in the Bruin roster who could benefit from a position switch, and his thoughts on how many games we will win next season.
BN: What are your expectations for this season for UCLA football? With the talent on the roster, the schedule we drew, and the relative strengths of the Pac-12 opposition we'll face this year, could this finally be the year for UCLA football?
Brandon Huffman: This is the year that everything has aligned for. The schedule is set up for something big, the talent is there and the eyes are on the Bruins. The question now becomes, can they finally put it altogether? If there was ever a season for it to happen, this would be the year. I expect UCLA to win 10 games again- the question is, will it be in the regular season or when the season is done (conference title game and bowl game included). Given the schedule, I like UCLA's chances of representing the South in the Pac-12 Title Game, and the third trip to the title game results in the first win, and first conference title since 1998. But, will it be enough to get them to either New Orleans or Pasadena? Ask me again in September.
BN: What do you see as the most likely "trap" game for UCLA this season, in terms of an opponent which may look weaker on paper but with upset potential?
BH: Utah has given UCLA fits the last couple of years, making their games the last two seasons, when UCLA was superior in talent, much more close than they should have been. And that's because I think Kyle Whittingham is a terrific head coach and Kalani Sitake is an outstanding defensive coordinator. Now throw in Mike Christensen as the offensive coordinator, and I think UCLA will have their work cut out for them against the Utes in Pasadena. Their three best games last year were against Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State, three 10-win teams, so they're capable of pushing the right buttons.
BN: Assuming UCLA reaches the Pac-12 title game, who would be the most likely opponent- Stanford, Oregon, other?
BH: I'm going to give it to Oregon this year. Their game is in Eugene, Marcus Mariota will be healthy and I think Stanford, while still being very talented, will finally have personnel losses hurt them.
BN: How much impact will moving the game from the team with the best record to Levi's Stadium have on UCLA's chances to advance to the final four (perceived bump from winning on a neutral site vs. taking away home field advantage making a win more difficult)?
BH: I think regardless of the location, the Pac-12 champ was likely going to go to the Final Four, even with one loss. All it does is give UCLA another venue to play in aside from Pasadena. But at that time of year, the stakes are highest.
BN: Lastly, Tim Brando over at the SEC/ESPN Network recently tabbed the Bruins as his preseason #1 team in the nation. What is your take on Brando's bold pick?
BH: Every year you have a couple of college football personalities that make an against-the-grain pick. What's surprising to me wasn't that he picked UCLA, it's that Tim Brando, who's been on CBS the past few years, the home of the SEC, didn't pick an SEC team in there. In all truthfulness, I was more surprised about that then him picking UCLA. But looking at his pick of UCLA, again, I think it's significant because he DIDN'T pick an SEC school when he knows them so well. Which makes me think he's really confident in that pick.
Once again, a huge round of thanks on behalf of the entire BN community to Brandon. If you are on Twitter you must follow him @BrandonHuffman and as mentioned in Part 1, he alone is worth price of subscription to Scout (and BruinReportOnline.com).