Well, we’ve come to the end of the UCLA Bruins football season in 2019. It was not a good one. This will be the fourth straight season that the Bruins have had a losing record. The Bruins went 4-8 in 2016, 6-7 in 2017, 3-9 in 2018, and will be either 5-7 or 4-8 this year.
The school has not had four straight losing seasons since it had six straight losing seasons in the first six years of the existence of the school, between 1919 and 1924. Notice, I didn’t say “the Bruins had six straight losing seasons.”
That’s because the school was known then as the “Southern Branch Cubs” and then the “Southern Branch Grizzlies” between 1919 and 1924.
Not UCLA. Not the Bruins. There isn’t a person alive today that even remembers one of those games. Let that sink in for a moment.
Win or lose tomorrow, Bruin fans are justifiably angry and it’s no wonder that attendance at the Rose Bowl is what it is in 2019.
But I digress.
UCLA (4-7, 4-4 Pac-12) plays the UC Berkeley Golden Bears (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12) tomorrow. The Golden Bears are going bowling and just beat their rival. UCLA is not and did not. So, do the Bruins have a chance to end 2019 on a winning note?
There are a couple of factors that influence this week’s musical selection. First, it is from a Los Angeles band, maybe the quintessential L.A. band. Second, it is an L.A. band from decades ago (as in, it has been decades since our beloved school had a four-season losing record streak).
Third, the time that this band was active from the summer of 1965 to early 1971 perfectly coincides with the Tommy Prothro era of UCLA football. UCLA was 41-18-3 in that era. What we would give to have that type of run right about now . . . .
Fourth, and finally, the song’s lyrics explain exactly what is going to happen at the Rose Bowl tomorrow, win or lose. There will be no bowl game, so someone will have to “turn out the lights” on UCLA’s 2019 season.
Many of you already know where I am going with this. The band is The Doors and the song is “When the Music’s Over”:
10 minutes and 59 seconds! For better or worse, they don’t make ‘em like that any more.
Younger UCLA fans: “O.K. Boomer.* Geez, that song was looooong and boooooring. Can we get onto the guesses?”
*Full disclosure: I’m not a boomer; I’m smack dab in the middle of Generation X.
Chase Garbers, not former UCLA product, Devon Modster, should be under center for the Golden Bears versus the Bruins tomorrow. But that does not necessarily mean that UC Berkeley’s passing offense will be good.
The Golden Bears have the #105 passing offense in the nation (averaging just 187.2 yards per game through the air), although they will be going up against UCLA’s terrible passing defense which was just shredded by a true freshman third-stringer. The Bruins are second to last in the nation (#129) in passing yards allowed, giving up a miserable 318.1 yards per game. This match-up is literally the opposite of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER ONE: How many yards will the UCLA passing defense surrender against the Golden Bear air attack?
Although the Chip Kelly era at UCLA has been terrible so far, one player who will be playing in his final game in a Bruin uniform has been a shining light for the Bruins in his two seasons in Westwood. That player is Joshua Kelley. With just 16 yards, the senior running back will reach the 1,000 yard plateau for the second straight season. And he has done it with an offensive line that has been inconsistent, at best, and bad, at worst. I am hoping that Kelley has another great game tomorrow.
UC Berkeley has a pretty good rushing defense though, #29 in the nation, allowing only 129 yards per game. The Golden Bears will be the fourth best rushing defense that the Bruins will have faced in 2019. Only Utah (#1), San Diego State (#3), and Arizona State (#21) have been better. Kelley had 164 yards versus ASU, but was held under 100 yards against both Utah and SDSU. PREGAME GUESS NUMBER TWO: How many rushing yards will Joshua Kelley have in his final game at UCLA?
The penultimate PGG for the 2019 season is quick and dirty. It’s a two parter: PREGAME GUESS NUMBER THREE: Predict which team wins and the final score.
BONUS GUESS: Predict the attendance at the Rose Bowl tomorrow. FYI, after its two-game road winning streak, UCLA only drew 47,111 at the Rose Bowl versus Colorado. With the Bruins’ bowl hopes dashed and, after being absolutely gobsmacked by Southern Cal, I predict tomorrow’s attendance to be much, much lower.
That wraps up Pregame Guesses for the 2019 UCLA football season. It has been a difficult and painful journey, but I thank you, the readers, for being there with this writer every step of the way. Hopefully greener (or powderkeg blue?) pastures await us in 2020.