Looking back at the season, objectively, it doesn't look very impressive. A win over Stanford (in either game) would have obviously gone a long way to giving this season the impression that UCLA is fundamentally "back" as a Top-25 program. If we had handled business against Oregon State or Cal, the same would be true. Hell, a convincing win over Baylor would have let UCLA go into the off-season feeling good that things were on the right track.
But looking back at the year:
- Win over Rice (6-6): they suck, we should win
- Win over Nebraska (10-3): good team, but we beat them at the Rose Bowl without star RB Burkhead
- Win over Houston (5-7): they suck, we were playing at home, this was supposed to be an easy win
- Loss to Oregon State (9-3): they're solid, but we should have beat them at the Rose Bowl
- Win over Colorado (1-11): duh
- Win over Utah (5-7): barely beat a bad team without their starting QB at the Rose Bowl
- Win over Arizona State (7-5): good road win, but they weren't anything spectacular
- Win over Arizona (8-5): we beat them in Pasadena and their QB was concussed
- Win over Washington State (3-9): hard to win in Pullman, but they weren't very good this year
- Win over Southern Cal (7-5): we showed up to play, but this was the worst U$C squad in a decade
- Loss to Stanford (11-2): Mora didn't do much to try to beat the Cardinal in Pasadena
- Loss to Stanford (11-2): we showed up to play in Palo Alto, only to choke it away in the end
- Loss to Baylor (8-5): we got punked on national TV by a mediocre team with a terrible defense
Next year will be a much better indicator. The schedule is tougher: Nevada at the Rose Bowl (upgrade over Rice), Nebraska in Lincoln, and New Mexico State in Pasadena (LOL at the idiots who wanted to hire DeWayne Walker) are the non-conference games. The Pac-12 schedule is much more difficult: we get Arizona State, Cal, and Colorado at home this year instead of on the road. Instead, we go to Arizona, Stanford, and Utah on the road, all of which are the more difficult road trips of their respective rivalry pairs. We play Southern Cal at the Coliseum, but that could be a wash if UCLA fans would actually show up. Instead of getting a softer Washington State squad in Westwood and Oregon State on the road, we instead have the Huskies playing us this upcoming year, and we finally have to face the Oregon Ducks. Worst of all, we play the Quacks at Autzen. Winning 9 games will be more impressive next year than this year, based on the schedule alone.
That said, we should beat Nevada, New Mexico State, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Utah, Washington, and Arizona. Those are games Mora has to win. We should be able to smack down the Trojans again. That brings the win total to 9. Oregon, Stanford, and Nebraska are all games we probably should be expected to lose, but Mora better have the team in the game. Getting blown out 50+ to 14 against the Ducks will not be acceptable. So once again, I expect at least 9 wins, winning the Pac-12 South, and beating Southern Cal.
Let's see if Mora can duplicate his success with a tougher schedule. Remember, even Karl got a 10 win season.