1. Last week I asked you to rank the UCLA losses in the wake of the Utah game, so it only seems fair to ask you to rank the UCLA victories in the aftermath of this victory.
AnteatersandBruins: A&M was by far the best win. Having been in the Rose Bowl that night and staying until the end, I can definitely say it was the most entertaining games (well, second halves) I have ever seen. The Hawaii and Oregon wins are at the bottom--not all that exciting and just kind of meh. ASU and Colorado in the middle.
Ted Baas: Personally I’d say the 31-14 win over Oregon win in week eight was the best. So far it’s the only convincing win over a team of similar strength. Obviously the Texas A&M win was the most exciting game of the season but I’d chose the Oregon game because it showed UCLA at it’s best, even the defense played well…
Markybcool: In light of the current state of affairs of UCLA football, this was the most satisfying win for me, so it ranks number one. I was proud of the way everybody stepped up with the injuries, the drama surrounding Coach Mora, and the overall perception of the program at this point in the year. Going down 14-0 it would have been easy to mail it in, but they didn’t.
Dimitri Dorlis: If I’m being honest, the best win was probably Oregon. It was the most complete win on both sides of the ball. For this game, and the A&M win as well, UCLA needed a lot of help from the opposing offensive coordinator doing very-dumb things.
Joe Piechowski: I’m going to say that the best win so far this year was actually Hawai’i. That’s simply because of the overall efficiency of the offense in that game. A&M would be a close second because of the comeback. But the three conference wins have all been “meh” in my book.
2. Josh Rosen came back from his concussion and looked fairly good, and responded to a lot of critics who believed he was “soft”. At this point, is he the top quarterback in the draft?
AnteatersandBruins: He definitely has the most untapped talent. If I were an NFL GM, I’d want to get my hands on him to see what he could do with a halfway decent staff around him.
Ted Baas: Well, I would say in terms of QBs he’s up there with Sam Darnold as the number one QB this year (I would place Rosen at one especially with the struggles Darnold has had over the past few weeks). The downsides to Rosen are obviously how open he is with his views, the concussion, and the whole generally immaturity thing. As one writer said, Rosen needs to decide if he wants to be Peyton Manning or Johnny Manziel.
Markybcool: I agree 100% with AnteatersandBruins. GM’s with top three picks will be hoping they have a chance to get him. Rosen and is propensity to share his thoughts on things will have ZERO impact on a team drafting him.
Dimitri Dorlis: My view is that Sam Darnold has struggled once the talent level surrounding him dropped, while Josh Rosen has managed to improve on a yearly basis despite never playing with that same level of talent, especially on the offensive line. Both guys have a ton of intangibles that you want to see in a top QB prospect, but Rosen has spent 3 years elevating the level of play of everyone around him, something I really haven’t seen from Darnold.
Joe Piechowski: If he chooses to go, he should be, but that said, I’m not thinking about the Draft, and neither should he. My gut still says he comes back for another year, or maybe goes somewhere else as a graduate transfer.
3. The defense got stops in this game! What is it about playing at home that causes this defense to play much better compared to the road?
AnteatersandBruins: It’s just got to be some sort of mental comfort level. ASU showed up in droves, so it’s not like the stands were silent when the Sun Devils had the ball.
Markybcool: I’m not sure allowing 584 total yards and 37 points is “much better”, but I like the glass half-full mentality. Getting a defensive TD actually was the turning point in this game in my opinion.
Dimitri Dorlis: Yeah, Marky has the right of it. Fact is, the defensive stops had more to do with ASU making some of the dumbest play-calls imaginable than anything new the defense did. ASU got close to running 100 plays, but kept screwing themselves over by calling pass plays or long stretch run plays. Then again, Texas A&M did something similar earlier this year, so maybe UCLA installed a stupidity multiplier on the sunny side of the field before they switched.
Joe Piechowski: Nah, the only “stupidity multiplier” that affected A&M was their offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. At the same time, sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good and I suspect that may just be the case with the defense at home.
4. I’m going to put you on the spot right now: does this team have a shot at beating USC this week?
AnteatersandBruins: Yes. Because reasons. And because anything can happen in college football. To quote Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber, “so you’re saying there’s a chance?”.
Ted Baas: For sure. Obviously not a great chance but they are playing an overrated USC team which has not looked elite since week two. If they win, it’ll be in a shootout since they obviously can’t outplay USC on defense.
Markybcool: Yes! I also have a chance to win the lottery, so chances abound all over. However, in the last three games Southern Cal has averaged 45 points, and our defense is not exactly the strong point of our team right now. So our chances our slim, but I will be rooting as hard as I always root when we play that school.
Dimitri Dorlis: My only response to this question is 13-9.
Joe Piechowski: To quote ESPN’s Chris Berman, “That’s why they play the games!” But, if you’re heading to Vegas for the weekend, I would advise not betting the house on it.
5. And to further put you on the spot: will Jim Mora save his job?
AnteatersandBruins: I’m willing to bet a crappy bowl game will save his job because improvement from last year, making progress, blah blah blah. I’m hoping he decides to save face and leave on his own.
Ted Baas: It’s possible but I think he might be too far gone. Mora has not rebuilt as we expected and has done worse with this team than most people anticipated. He has consistently underperformed but this year the fanbase seems too mad to let him stay. The zeitgeist is growing more and more anti-Mora, the only thing that might save him is a win against USC.
Markybcool: I think even Mora knows his time at UCLA is coming to an end, but I can see anything happening. An embarrassment at the hands of Southern Cal might be too much to overcome.
Schools are already showing what it looks like to buy-out coaches and their big contracts. So examples have been given to UCLA, but based on our track record, I still see obstacles to firing Mora. 0-2 to end the season would be the breaking point in my opinion.
Dimitri Dorlis: It depends, honestly. If UCLA can keep things relatively close with Southern Cal and then beat UC Berkeley to earn a bowl bid, he’s almost guaranteed a chance to return (if he decides to return, which is a new wrinkle I’ll throw out there for people to debate). A blowout loss to USC might be enough no matter how the Cal game works. And losing both games and missing a bowl almost guarantees a change.
Joe Piechowski: I think Jim Mora probably needs to win one of the two remaining games in order to keep his job. If he finishes under .500 again, he should be fired. Will he be? We’ll see what Dan Guerrero does. It’s also possible that if the Southern Cal game is a blowout, Dan might actually be moved to fire him on Monday and name an interim for the UC Berkeley game. But it’s all up to Dan and that leaves me sad because I have little faith he will do the right thing in this case.
6. The Extra Point - Sound off!
AnteatersandBruins: Kenny Young had a helluva night, and I’m glad he’s going out on a high note as the last 42. He really wants to be a positive example for younger athletes and children in general, and I think he’s doing it. Additionally, I know the banners were warranted, but I was glad to hear Rosen stick up for Mora. Shows he actually cares about the team, when there has been speculation that he’s checked out (and some of that speculation has definitely come from me!). Maybe it will light a fire and they’ll have some extra anger on Saturday.
Markybcool: I am really interested in the way the recruiting is going to go down. There are some big names out there that still have UCLA on their radars. But I cannot see coaching uncertainty being an enticing proposition for some of these guys. So the outlook for our future is not looking any brighter.
Dimitri Dorlis: I agree with the general sentiment of the banners, but in talking to people at different tailgates on Saturday, it seems the message got too muddled. The common question from people was wondering if USC fans had paid for the banner in an effort to troll UCLA fans. The banner did, eventually, do a good job of highlighting the failures of the Dan Guerrero regime, but there was too much confusion to say it was effective.
Joe Piechowski: I disagree with Dimitri. I was there too and didn’t hear anyone wondering if it was Southern Cal fans who had paid for them. The football program has been on a downward trajectory for multiple seasons. It’s time for action from Dan Guerrero.