Lucky 13 - UCLA Top 13 Modern Day Quarterbacks

With under 90 days to the Bruins Sunday match up with Texas A&M boredom has officially taken over.

With the Kings not in the Stanley Cup, the Lakers done for the year and maybe the decade, and the Dodger season just warming up, the NBA finals a joke, I have far too much time on my hands.

One can only play so much golf!

Although their trying to keep me busy CNN, MSNBC, and Fox can carry only so much of the entertainment weight even with the barrage of amazing daily stories from DC!

But who am I kidding? I need College football back sooner than later! Spring practice was just a tease. Isn't it always?

While pondering how Josh Rosen might bounce back from last seasons injury plagued debacle in what will be his third different offense in as many years I began to reflect on the Quarterbacks that have lined up under center for the Bruins over the years.

I unbiasedly debated who was better than who, who was the ultimate competitor, and who was more impactful.

The dialogue and array of statistics in my my mind became cluttered, which isn't hard to accomplish these days.

Before I realized what was happening some fairly deep research (ugh) was the result of what was initially just a casual review of player stats and team accomplishments.

Well here we are!

I have taken the time to list/rank the top 13 modern day UCLA Quarterbacks of all time, in my humble opinion of course.

The metrics I employed are listed below in what I deemed the order of importance when considering the individual rankings on this list.

1. Wins versus sC:

What else could be ahead of this?

The Bruins are truly guaranteed only one thing every season and that is the opportunity to play and beat their cross town rival. Nothing else is promised or given but this.

Yes, we have grown to expect more from our team over recent years but the Cross Town Battle is and should be the seasons measuring stick for all Bruin supporters and sC haters.

Nothing is more sacred or personal than a win over them!

Yes yes yes, national respect is extremely important but you need to win the local battle before you can be considered in the national conversation!

Even if the Bruins were to go 1-11 in a given campaign it wouldn't be total devastation as long as they found a way to beat sC! Those 11 losses could be forgiven, for the most part, as long as the "Victory Bell" and city bragging rights amongst players and fans were restored.

I think we can all agree that Bruin QB legacy is steeped heavily in how they fair against sC. One big win could place a Quarterback solidly in Bruin folklore just as 0 wins can hurt said legacy despite any other lofty achievements that may be realized by Bruin signal callers! Beating sC is the number one measuring stick in my mind.

2. Rose Bowl Wins/Appearance:

Obviously getting too and winning the Rose Bowl is a huge part of a UCLA QB's legacy as well. It was more easily realized years ago as the Bruins seemed to reach the January 1st game just enough to keep us happy through the years.

But the expansion of the conference and increase in conference games from the days of the AAWU (Athletic Association of Western Universities) to the Pac 8 to the Pac 10 and now to the Pac 12 makes it is harder and harder to reach the Grandaddy of them all.

Throw in increased conference parity, specifically as it relates to recruiting top athletes, which in turn drastically translates into a deeper more competitive play on the field resulting in fewer trips to the Rose Bowl in January!

Placing this higher on metric list doesn't seem fair as there are fewer opportunities these days.

3. Total Career Wins:

Just win baby! Sorry for the Al Davis reference!

But I feel winning games is the next measuring stick on the list. Overall and conference win/loss totals are important no doubt in ranking Bruin QB's.

4. Passing Records/Personal accolades:

Football is a team sport and a QB's seasonal or career stats are greatly a direct result from the talent of the players that surround him.

Some QB's were simply lucky to have been surrounded by great players and better coaches than others QB's before or after them. Being at the right place at the right time is huge in who a QB ultimately plays with which in turn contributes to how statistically successful an individual QB will be.

The fact remains that a QB's legacy is no doubt effected by his statistical compilations during the course of his career and but lower on the metric scale

5. Impact Games:

Upset wins, big comebacks, memorable drives or plays, and inflicting heartbreak on the cross town rivals is another barometer when comparing and ranking UCLA QB's of the past.


I will take this time to say that I have seen every QB on the list play save for Gary Beban but have watched several games on video lending me better insight to his athletic ability and leadership.

Let's go!

13. Jay Schroeder:

Although he only started one game for the Bruins it was a victory over the hated ones in the cross town rival as Jay hit Freeman McNeil on a wheel rout for the game winning touchdown.

sC had already clinched a Rose Bowl birth but a win against them is a win right?

Not factoring into this ranking but worth noting; Jay went on to a solid NFL career playing for the Redskins, Raiders, Cardinals, and Bengals while making the pro bowl in 86' and winning a Super Bowl ring with the Skins as a back up to Doug Williams.

12. John Barnes:

Walk on and 4th string QB John Barnes makes the list on the strength of his dramatic fill in upset win over the heavily favored #5 blowjens in 1992 and probably could be higher on the list based on what he accomplished that damp nite in the Rose Bowl.

Down 14 points going into the 4th quarter Barnes, who walked on for that 92' campaign after having to sneak into the 91' rivalry game the prior season using his girlfriends student ID, led the 5-5 Bruins to an amazing win over their cross town rivals.

JJ Stokes had a fantastic game as well but it was Barnes who found Stokes time after time for big touch downs.

The John Barnes led victory was the second of the eight in a row against the hated ones which is the longest win streak of either school in the long rivalry. If Barnes doesn't rally the Bruins in this exciting game the Bruins owning the longest winning streak doesn't happen.

It was such a riveting story line Disney purchased the rights to it but has yet to develop anything to date.

11. Drew Olson:

Not to be confused with Ben Olson, Drew had a solid four year run at UCLA ending his career second on UCLA's passing list at the time with 8,532 passing yards, 664 completions, and 67 touchdowns. His body of work was admirable.

In his 2005 senior year he led the Bruins to a 10-2 mark and a ranking of 17th in the country while throwing 34 touchdowns and only six INT's.

Drew holds the UCLA record for most touchdowns in a season 05' (34) and most in in one game 05' (6) versus Oregon State.

Unfortunately while quarterbacking at UCLA Drew was unable to lead his Bruin teams to a single victory against cross town rival sC losing 66-19 his senior season tainting an otherwise fine campaign that year. He also wasn't able to reach the Rose Bowl during that span.

10. Patrick Cowan:

I feel a 13-9 win over a heavily favored sC squad, knocking sC out of the national Championship game in the process, and scoring the only Bruin TD on a short run into the end zone qualifies him to be here.

On that game Cowan took what commentator Lou Holtz called, "The most violent tackle I have ever seen on a college football field.", From linebacker Ray Malualuga on the sideline. Cowan popped right up from the the sideline as if nothing happened setting the tone for the Bruins! This win and the impact was amazing.

And oh yea did I mention knocking the blowjens out of the NCG!

The kid makes the list at #10 based on this one game.

9. John Sciarra

The original double threat who came to UCLA as a running back but was converted to QB.

John guided the Bruins to a win versus sC in his senior year and then onto the Rose Bowl where he keyed the upset of #1 Ohio State and was named MVP to the chagrin of old Woody Hays!

He totaled 4,466 combined rushing and passing yards with a 4.9 per carry average on the ground. He threw for only 23 career touchdowns but 14 of them came in his Senior year 75'.

The Bruins finished #5 in the country that same year while Sciarra finished seventh in the Heisman race.

John finished with a 15-5-3 record his Junior and Senior season as well.

His overall statistics are not overwhelming but his victory over sC in 75', his Rose Bowl win and upset of the Buckeyes, and Heisman finish are more than enough to make the list at #9.

8. Rick Neuheisel:

Another walk-on the list, Rick was primarily the place kick holder on the team, a similar path taken by his son years later.

In his 83' senior season he was named the starter, then benched for the teams poor start, and named the starter again when Steve Bono was injured.

Rick settled in and led the Bruins to a 6-4-1 record and a 27-21 win over sC with the Rose Bowl on the line. That Rose Bowl appearance was realized with the sC victory coupled with a little help from Washington State who upset Washington that same day.

Neuheisel was named the Rose Bowl MVP for throwing four touchdowns and leading the Bruins in a 45-9 beat down of Illinois

So a win over sC, knocking them out of the Rose Bowl and a Grandaddy victory coupled with the MVP trophy puts Rick solidly on this list at #8.

7. Troy Aikman:

If this were the list of greatest NFL QB's who attended UCLA, Troy would be at the very top.

An NFL Hall of Famer, Super Bowl Champion, and arguably one of the best QB's to ever take the field at the highest level; Aikman accomplished some amazing feats.

But this is about his time spent in Westwood not Dallas.

As most of us know Troy may have never played for the Bruins if it weren't for DL Jerome Brown of the Miami Hurricanes breaking Aikmans ankle on 10/19/1985 while he was the Sooner starting QB for then Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer.

At the end of the 85' season Aikman transferred to UCLA and after sitting out the 1986 season, because of NCAA transfer rules, became the Bruin starter in 1987 as well as 1988 where he compiled some pretty impressive numbers which I will get too shortly.

The elephant in the room though is Troy's inability to beat sC in his two attempts losing 17-13 in 87' and 31-22 in 88'! Going 0-2 versus the hated ones drops him down on the list.

Not getting to a Rose Bowl game is another knock on Aikman's resume.

In the two afore mentioned losses to sC the Rose Bowl was on the line, ahhh those were the days, but Aikman and the Bruins couldn't get passed their Rivals thus leaving a black mark on Troy's UCLA legacy.

Troy went an amazing 20-4 in his two seasons at UCLA!

In 87' the Bruins tallied a 10-2 record and finished the season ranked 6th in the nation. The Bruins beat the Florida Gators 20-16 in the Aloha Bowl

In 88' the team matched the prior seasons win total going 10-2 again. Having missed out on the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive season Aikman led the Bruins to a 17-3 win against the Razorbacks in the Cotton Bowl.

Troy passed for a total of 5,298 yards while totaling 41 touchdowns versus 17 INT's.

He tallied an average QB rating of 152.0 % in his two season at the helm of the Bruin offense.

Troy also held a 64.8 completion percentage combined for 87' and 88'.

At the end of the 88' season he was awarded the Danny Obrian award for the top QB in the nation, was a consensus All American, 3rd in the Heisman voting, UPI West Coast player of the year, and the D.C. Club QB of the year!

The above distinguished accolades were just a hint at the fine achievements that Troy would realize at the NFL level.

A win or two against sC coupled with Rose Bowl victory and all of his awards and statistics no doubt would have placed Troy close to if not at the top of this list!

Close but no cigar.

6. Tommy Maddox:

Tommy was 1:16 seconds away in his Freshman year (1990) from going 2-0 against sC in his two seasons at UCLA.

The 90' rivalry game pitted Tommy and Todd Marinavich head to head as much as the game between the respective teams.

The media, city of Los Angeles, as well as the surrounding suburbs were no doubt amped for this game. UCLA was 5-5 and coming off a huge road upset of 21 point favored Washington the previous week. sC was 7-2-1 and favored to spank the Bruins!

Both QB's were Young baby faced sensations playing division I football for the two most successful and dominant teams on the west coast in those days. The back drop for this November drama was sun soaked Pasadena California and a divided Los Angeles.

This, Maddox's first, game against sC has been referred to as simply "The Shoot Out!".

Tommy threw for over 400 yards (single game record broken by Cad McNown who threw for 500+ eight years later) in the last second 45-42 loss!

He did get the win in a packed coliseum the following season (91') as a huge measure of revenge beating sC 24-21.

At the end of his Sophomore and final season Maddox had accumulated 5000 plus passing yards faster than any other Pac 10 player ever, finishing with 5,363 total. He was also named first team All American in 91'.

His fearless gunslinger attitude coupled with his deadly accuracy (61.9%) made Tommy a must see and a fan favorite!

Tommy's Sophomore win against sC was the first of eight in a row once again still the longest win streak in the history of the rivalry for either team.

Declaring for the NFL draft after his Sophomore year saddened Bruin faithful and left most wondering what could have been his Junior and senior seasons.

5. Wayne Cook:

We have to look deeper than the modest 13-10 win/loss stat Wayne posted.

We need to look at his 2-0 record against sC which in fact might have been three in a row if John Barnes had not stole the spotlight filling in for the injured Cook in that amazing 92' game.

In the 93' sC game the Rose Bowl was on the line for both teams. Cook led the Bruins to a 27-21 win and a Rose Bowl bid.

In the 94' game sC was agin playing for a trip to the Rose Bowl while UCLA was simply playing for pride and that of spoiler to the blowjens!

Cook led UCLA to a 31-19 victory over the hated ones and temporarily knocked sC out of the Rose Bowl.

Temporarily you ask?

You see sC needed favored Oregon to lose against underdog Oregon State plus win their own game against the Bruins to qualify for the Rose Bowl.

As mentioned UCLA knocked sC off and rejoiced for a while that they had spoiled sC's trip to Pasadena. But Oregon took care of the Beavers allowing sC to say that it was the Ducks not the Bruins who really sealed their Rose Bowl fate.

But I'm sure Cook and the rest of us will take 2-0 right.

The previous 93', Junior year, he guided the Bruins (8-4) to a Rose Bowl appearance losing a hard hitting game to Wisconsin.

In that game the Bruin defense was unable to tackle stocky running back Brent Moss who ran for 158 yards.

The Bruins had 500 total yards to the Badgers 346, and 288 passing yards to Wisconsin's 96 but it wasn't meant to be. The Bruins put the ball on the ground 5 times, that coupled with the poor tackling doomed Cook and his mates in the old Arroyo Seco that sunny January day.

Cook passed for 4,723 yards and an impressive 34 touchdowns to only 11 INT's in his career.

4. Tom Ramsey:

Played in 46 games during his four year career at UCLA from 1979-1982 going 1-1 against rival sC in his Junior and Senior campaigns.

Ramsey posted a stellar 15-3-1 record those junior and senior seasons combined.

Not the biggest QB in physical stature but played with great heart while possessing a very strong arm. Tom threw for 6168 total yards and 50 touchdowns with 34 INTs.

He led the Bruins to a 10-1 record in 1982, his senior year and guided the Bruins to the Rose Bowl game against Big 10 Champion Wolverines. Tom was named co mvp along with Don Rogers while defeating Michigan 24-14 for UCLA's first Rose Bowl appearance and win since 1976 securing his ranking on this list.

3. Brett Hundley:

The numbers for Hundley are freakish when you look at them and could easily place him higher on this list simply on the strength of said numbers.

But let us start with #17 beating sC three times in a row which Brett did in convincing manner by the way!

Only one other Bruin QB has more wins against the hated ones!!! At the time of this post the Bruins haven't beat sC since Brett left for the NFL at the end of his Junior year.

Prior to Brett's arrival, along with Coach Mora, UCLA had lost to sC 12 out of 13 times with the only win in that span being the afore mentioned 13-9 upset game engineered by Patrick Cowan.

sC had dominated during that stretch (99-2011) posting notable wins of 52-21 in 2002, 47-23 in 2003, 66-19 in 2005, as well as the infamous 50-0 game in 2011.

Brett Hundley was a red shirt freshman on the sidelines of that 2011 beat down and one could imagine that Brett would use that fuel for the fire moving forward during his Bruin career.

In 12' with a birth in the Pac 12 Championship game on the line Brett guided the Bruins to their first victory over their cross town rivals since 2006 by a score of 38-28

In 13' UCLA returned to the Coliseum and throttled their rivals 35-14 as interim coach Ed Orgeron saw any chance at securing the head coaching position at sC flutter away.

The following 14' season saw both sC and UCLA in contention for the Pac 12 South title on the day of the big game. UCLA manhandled sC 38-20 as Brett played a stellar game in what would be the last rivalry game of his fine career.

In that game the Rose Bowl crowd was ecstatic in the final moments as Matt Barkley was viciously sacked by Anthony Barr all but sealing the win. Barkley remained on the turf for several minutes while trainers and medical staff treated him.

Three consecutive dominating wins managed by Brett after years of frustration was a much welcome and far overdue realization.

Brett tallied 40 games started with a 29-11 record.

Big #17 finished his career with 9,966 passing yards second all time in school history behind Cade Mcnown.

Hundley registered 75 passing touchdowns to only 25 INTs with a career 150.8 passer rating.

Brett passed Cade Mcnown (68 td's) to become number one in passing touchdowns (75) in only three seasons where as Cade played four seasons.

He had 1,747career yards rushing with 30 rushing touchdowns totaling 105 rushing and passing touchdowns combined.

Brett logged 11,713 total passing and rushing yards from scrimmage, a monster number by any standard.

Brett was not able to get the Bruins to the Rose Bowl game but it was not for lack of trying or commitment. He was 2-1 in other bowl games which is admirable.

2. Gary Beban:

"The Great One"

That was Beban's nickname during his stellar career at UCLA from 1965-1967 where he posted an amazing record of 24-4-2.

During that span Beban was 2-1 versus sC and if not for a blocked xtra point in 67' might have never lost to his cross town rivals.

In his Sophomore season Beban led the Bruins not only to a win versus sC but to a Rose Bowl appearance against a #1 ranked Michigan Wolverine team. In that game Beban scored both Bruin touchdowns and was named MVP as UCLA won 14-12.

In his only loss to the blowjens, in his senior year, he played with torn cartilage in his ribs and still threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

That game commonly referred to as the "Greatest Game Ever" had the National Championship on the line as well as the Heisman trophy in the balance as Beban was competing with sC's tailback for the best collage football player award.

Beban played courageously losing on the afore mentioned blocked extra point.

Beban was named the 1967 Heisman Trophy award winner after finishing 5th the previous season.

Gary was named to the all conference team all three seasons, named first team All American, won the Maxwell award, won the W J Voit Memorial trophy, as well as the Dolly Cohen award acknowledging both academics and athletics.

What a stud!

1. Cade Mcnown:

No doubt there will be a great deal of blow back regarding my pick for the number one UCLA quarterback of all time.

Hear me out first.

4-0 versus the university of southern california is the best place to start!

Beating sC four times is simply amazing! Sweeping the hated ones has put Cade in a very special place as no other Bruin QB has been able to do so! From 95-98 Cade owned the cross town rivalry - period!

Winning as a Freshman 24-21 in 95' must have been exhilarating for the young Portland Oregon native but it couldn't possibly compare to what lay ahead the following season.

In 96' Cade led the Bruins to an improbable late game comeback win down 17 points with five minutes to go. Aided by a late crucial forced blowjen fumble the Bruins got back in the game sending it to OT!

This was the first year overtime games were allowed in college football and by default the first ever OT game between the two cross town rivals.

Cade threw big pass after big pass and ran for crucial first downs like a half back. Skip Hicks showed up big and the Bruins, in double overtime, won 48-41 in one of the most memorable and exciting games I have ever watched.

The following season Cade and the Bruins won 24-21 in the 97' game in far less dramatic fashion for their seventh straight win against sC and Cade's third straight!

In 98' the Bruins dispatched sC 34-17 on their way to a Rose Bowl Appearance against Wisconsin.

In that Rose Bowl Cade played like the Pac 10 offensive player of the year that he was throwing touchdowns of 38 and 41 yards and totaling 340 total passing yards 4th on the all time Rose Bowl record list.

I think we all remember how Ron Dayne ran for four touchdowns leading Wisconsin past our Bruins in a tough 38-31 loss for the Westwooders!

Looking back on that 98' Senior season Cade had led the Bruins to an overall 10-2 record, 8-0 in Pac 10 play including an outright conference Championship.

The Bruins were one game, one quarter, one bad call, and one hurricane away from defeating Miami (see prior Fan Post "The Perfect Storm") and meeting Tennessee for the National Championship game.

In fact Cade posted an overall won loss record of 32-15 while going 21-9 in conference play over his four year stint.

In his Junior 97' and Senior 98' seasons he went 20-4 overall and 15-1 in Pac 10 play.

Cade also led the Bruins from 97' to 98' to 20 straight wins, the longest win streak in school history.

In the 97' campaign McNown's offense averaged 39.75 PPG and he led the nation in a passer rating of 168.6 while guiding the Bruins to a 10-2 record (7-1 Conference) and a Co Pac 10 Championship with Washington State.

The McNown led Bruins finished the 97' season ranked #5 in the country as he led UCLA to a Cotton Bowl win versus Texas A&M while being named MVP!

Personal Stats and Achievements Include:

10,708 total passing yards
68 passing touchdowns

577 total rushing yards
16 rushing touchdowns

11,285 total yards
84 total touchdowns

138.9 career passing rating

-1st Team All American
-3rd Place Heisman Ballot
-Pac 10 Offensive Player Year
-Johnny Unitas Award
-Pop Warner Award
-MVP Senior Bowl

- 8th Place Heisman Ballot
-All Pac 10 2nd team
-3rd Team All American
-Led Nation in Passer Rating 168.6
-MVP Cotton Bowl

Factoring in the above listed metric points Cade had the best overall career at UCLA and in my eyes deserves the #1 ranking!

Cade's perfection against sC combined with his overall competitive spirit, field generalship, mental and physical toughness, knack for making the big play, and amazing overall stats places #18 as the best ever modern day QB to line up under center for the Bruins.

Back to Rosen.

I wonder what type of season Josh will be able to compile under the same metric structure?

Coming into his Freshman year ranking number one on this list wasn't too far from the realm of possibility. The promise, the talent, and the hype was thick in the air; how quickly things can change.

No one knows what the future holds for Josh but I do know that he no doubt has the ability to make this list and it's just a matter of how high he will rank. In my mind if everything breaks his way he might be looking at cracking top 7 maybe top 6.

Can he get his first win versus sC?

Can he guide the Bruins to a Pac 12 South Title?

Can he get the team to a Rose Bowl appearance and win?

Will he, with help from his offensive line, have one of the finest passing seasons in UCLA history?

Where will his final individual college numbers place him in the company of those listed above?

Time will tell.....I just wish the season started this Sunday!

Go Bruins......

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.

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