Season 3 of the Jim Mora era. Great recruiting classes have come through, the foundation has been laid, and now the UCLA Bruins football team must meet the expectations that not only we here at BruinsNations have in possibly our best season since 1998, but as does every major media outlet out there. Just look at all the articles being pumped out as the season previews come rolling out.
Yahoo Sports is promoting the Pac-12 as the best football conference this year. (move over, SEC.) It's year three for several Pac-12 programs, but the biggest expectations are on Coach Jim Mora.
If anyone appears poised to become the straw boss of the league, it’s Mora. He’s repurposed previously soft UCLA as a tougher team, and ramped up recruiting in a hurry.
And once again of note: the Pac-12 does not routinely schedule cupcakes (or at least, UCLA does not stoop to scheduling FCS schools, while nearly 30% of the Pac-12's out of conference schedule is against the power conferences and Notre Dame) but we also play nine league games, which could doom us in the words of Rick Neuheisel. It shouldn't matter - if we want to play with the big boys, we have to win every game and not put ourselves in a possible two loss, outside looking in scenario.
Sports Illustrated in their Pac-12 preview also agrees with us, picking UCLA and Oregon for the Pac-12 title game, although they have us losing to Oregon (and a 10-3 record, 7-2 in the Pac-12) in the Pac-12 title game.
The Pac-12 is arguably the best conference, top to bottom, but we’re still waiting for someone from the South to give someone from the North -- namely, Oregon or Stanford -- a run for the conference championship. UCLA seems primed for the task if Hundley and Jack can live up to the hype.
They've picked Myles Jack as the Defensive MVP, our game with Texas as a key out of conference game, and of course, the UCLA/Oregon game as a key game.
It's the same theme over and over.
- The Salt Lake Tribune: Expectations are "sky high" for UCLA and Brett Hundley
- In AthlonSports' list of Pac-12 games to see, UCLA is listed in 5 of the top 10, 6 if you count the top 11.
- Will the Heisman return to the Pac-12? ESPN sees Brett Hundley as a contender. Elite QB, elite expectations for the season, along with elite hardware. You can also read ESPN's preview of Hundley here, where they also reiterate he is a Heisman candidate and one of the most explosive players in football.
- In Jon Wilner's preseason Pac-12 team, Jordon James was named to the first team, Brett Hundley to the second, along with Malcolm Bunche and Jake Brendel. On defense, UCLA has six players, led by Myles Jack, Eric Kendricks, and Ellis McCarthy on the first team, and Eddie Vanderdoes, Anthony Jefferson, and Randall Goforth on the second team. oddly, he lists Sean Covington as the best punter in the pac-12... and he's no longer with our team. Once again, elite players, we need to have elite results.