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UCLA Pregame Guesses: Stanford Cardinal Edition

A win tomorrow gives UCLA the Pac 12 South title and a date with Oregon next week.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

(This week’s video is "Spit U Out" by Bonfire Beach. I figured if we didn’t get a bonfire last week, we could have one this week. Bonfire Beach is a side project of Magic Wands Dexy Valentine. L.A. Weekly said Bonfire Beach was one of the ten bands expected to blow up in 2014. I think it’s a great song that echoes Sonic Youth’s Sugar Kane. By the way, the Dream Syndicate gig last week at Echoplex was outstanding. They played just about two hours, sounded great and were in great spirits. I really do hope this isn’t the last time the band plays.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014, 5:00 pm

At the exact moment Oregon State upset Arizona State in Corvallis, Oregon, the playoffs started for the UCLA Bruins. The Beavers upset win over the Sun Devils essentially canceled out UCLA’s loss to Oregon. From that moment on, we "controlled our own destiny."

I’ll be more clear: I have no doubt – zero doubt – that wins over Stanford tomorrow and Oregon next week would put us in the first college football playoffs. Two more wins and the only thing the loss to Utah cost us was a better seed; as it stands (assuming Alabama wins out) we’d have a date with a sure-to-be number seed Crimson Tide. Just a guess, but that game would likely be the Sugar Bowl. My logic: As the number one seed, Alabama would go to New Orleans, SEC territory, against the four seed. The #2 vs. #3 game would be the Rose Bowl. If Oregon wins out and moves up to #1, they’d get the Rose Bowl and if they win out and don’t move up they’d still get the Rose Bowl vs. the #3 team. If we win out, then you could argue that the Utah loss cost us a "home game" as either the two- or three-seed. Phew.

It’s weird. Just a month ago, I was suffering from melancholia. We weren’t playing well and I was hearing and reading a lot of negative stuff about the team even though we had a good record and I feel I internalized a lot of that stuff as well. And I think it’s worth pointing out that our non-conference opponents turned out to be better than any of us thought. I read earlier today that Texas, Memphis and Virginia add up to the toughest non-conference schedule played by any team in the country. It’s one reason why we have the number one strength of schedule in the nation. So, we’re 9-2 against the toughest schedule, with one of those losses to the team I feel (and many other agree) is the best in the country. In the micro, this team has had an up and down year. In the macro, I can’t complain at all about where this team stands. As diehard fans, we experience every nuance good and bad. But fans of other teams and the national press aren’t looking as closely as us and all they see is college football’s best two loss team and a team that is playing its best at the end of the year.

This last is interesting when I consider who coaches the team. Jim Mora is a lifelong NFL coach whose father was an NFL coach. In the NFL coaches prepare their teams to peak late in the year. They don’t worry too much about early season inconsistencies and they don’t worry about margin of victory. They just know that "winning is winning."

Let’s let Dominic Toretta explain:

Winning is winning. And we’ve got a team that wins and seems to have survived its early season inconsistency only to start playing its best football when it matters.

Consider this: With a win tomorrow, we will be the champions of the Pac 12 South. That’s no worse than the second best division in the country, rivaled only by an SEC West that features Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ol’ Miss, Texas aTm, LSU and Arkansas. To be honest, only the shittiness of Colorado (who we almost lost to) prevents me from arguing that the P12S is the best division in college football.

Speaking of Mora, I don't really believe that the team must absolutely win the next two games because this is necessarily his only shot to win national title. Because if that’s true, than he’s simply not the right coach even if he wins out. Because the right coach would not be seeking to cash in his one shot, he’d be looking to build a consistent winner, a consistent Top Ten team that is always in contention. But I really don't think that it’s necessarily true that this is our only chance. We actually have many of our best players coming back, have recruited well the past few seasons and have another good recruiting class lining up. Yes, we lose Brett Hundley, but we’re bringing in the best high school quarterback in the country. To pull an old one out of my ass, Tennessee won its national title the year after Peyton Manning graduated. So, whatever happens tomorrow and next week, I certainly hope this isn’t our last best chance to win league and win a national title.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to go all big picture. The focus should be on tomorrow. Oddly enough, I’m not that concerned about the game. We’re better than Stanford this year. I stressed last week because it was a rivalry game, but this isn’t. I’m not particularly impressed with Stanford’s coach or quarterback this season and their top offensive player isn’t available. They aren’t tailor made for us like Southern Cal was, this should be a tougher game, but I’m really expecting us to win and get the rematch with Oregon up in Santa Clara.

And with that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Stanford Cardinal Edition:

  1. Will UCLA have more rushing touchdowns or receiving touchdowns tomorrow?
  2. Tomorrow is senior day. Name a senior you'd like to give thanks.
  3. What number will be higher: UCLA sacks of Stanford's quarterback or UCLA field goals?