It occurred to me the other day that this season marks the 10th anniversary of what is, in my opinion, the greatest run in UCLA football history. The greatest I can remember, anyway.
Has it really been ten years?
I wish I'd started this at the beginning of the season.
But, I didn't.
So, we pick up the 1997 season ... already in progress:
The Bruins opened the '97 season with a pair of losses. The first was the now-infamous Skip Hicks is tired game -- a 34-37 loss to Washington State and Ryan Leaf. UCLA they dropped a tough one to #3-ranked Tennessee, who had a young quarterback named Peyton Manning. (Manning and Leaf would later go back-to-back at the top of the NFL Draft.)
The first win of the season is forever known as Route 66 -- a 66-3 drubbing of Texas in Texas.
Cade McNown and company then continuted on track at home against Arizona, with a 40-27 victory.
Then came the Houston game -- played October 4, 1997.
Cade McNown threw for four touchdowns and Skip Hicks ran for a pair of scores -- all in the first half -- as 25th-ranked UCLA rolled to its third straight win, a 66-10 romp over Houston.
McNown and Hicks both sat out the entire second half as the Bruins (3-2) won for the first time in three meetings with the Cougars (1-4). McNown was 14-of-31 for 297 yards to move into second place on the school's all-time passing list with 5,544 yards. Tom Ramsey threw for 6,255 yards from 1979-82.
UCLA lost its first two games in the final minutes by a combined nine points. Since then, the Bruins have won three in a row by a combined 132 points. They are averaging 46 points per game.
"First of all I'm excited about this football team and what they're doing," said UCLA coach Bob Toledo. "They played with emotion and intensity, which was our theme all week. They (Houston) had turnovers that hurt them tremendously."
We will continue to provide these anniversary updates to both celebrate our past accomplishments and to serve as a reminder of the potential of this once-great football program.