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UCLA’s Heart-stopping Win Against Arizona State: A Meaningful One for Jim Mora

UCLA’s heart-stopping win against Arizona is a huge one for Coach Jim Mora and could have significant ramifications (positive ones) for rest of the season.

Coach Mora has reasons to be fired up.
Coach Mora has reasons to be fired up.

Bruins still have ways to go before we can call the 2012 season a successful one. We still made number of mistakes this afternoon that had our heads scratching and screaming at the TV in frustration. All that said what happened this afternoon in Tempe is a big deal for Coach Jim Mora and UCLA football. Let me take a little further. I think it's a big f**king deal and bigger than any of the "exciting" wins from 2007 season when we were pulling out desperation wins against bad teams.

Bruins now at 6-2 (3-2 in the conference) has a legitimate shot in getting to the conference championship game if they can bring the kind of passion and intensity they brought this afternoon against a decent and pretty well coached Sun Devils team on the road. As a UCLA alumnus, who has gotten his heart broken over and over again in last 10+ years, I am still not going to get my hopes up. But it certainly felt good to see the sideline erupt and see Mora get so emotional and fired up about his players.

It was special appropriate for Ka'imi Fairbairn to split the uprights for that 33 yard game winner after what he had gone through in early part of the season. Here is an amazing video of him celebrating with his team-mates:(via Inside UCLA and HT Classof66 in comment thread)

It was amazing to see Brett Hundley to maintain composure and show uncanny leadership as a redshirt freshman, leading the Bruins to their biggest win in years. And, yes it was also especially sweet to see one of the greatest running backs in the Bruins history (who will most likely become our all-time rushing leader next weekend), play a huge role in setting up the team for a win in our game winning drive.

The hair in the back of my neck was standing up when I was listening to Mora talking to Petros about how he had total "confidence" that Fairbairn was "going to knock that through." Emotion was oozing out of him as he said, "Man, I'm so proud of that young man." And it was Mora beaming to Petros about No. 17 saying, "He might be young in age, but that sucker is so mature and unflappable."

I have no problem admitting that I thought "here we go again" after the team fell behind 0-14 in Q1 after the boneheaded mistakes on special teams and classic, vanilla UCLA defense on the second drive. I also have no problem admitting that I didn't have any confidence that the Bruins were going to go on a game winning drive in the last 90 seconds of the game. Fourteen years of pain, agony, frustration and numbness since December 5, 1998 will do that to you.

But what happened this afternoon IMHO has a chance to be more meaningful than 13-9. It is still going to be hard to wipe away the bitter taste of that Cal loss (as I see the Tedford's hapless bunch getting PWNed in Utah). But if the Bruins can repeat the intensity and passion of this afternoon, and build on it week after week, things may actually start looking up.

We will pick apart this game in next couple of days. But for tonight, let's enjoy a beautiful Saturday night (and extra beautiful given what happened down the road in Tucson).