In 1971, the fall after I graduated and headed back up north, UCLA football endured a horrible season. Pepper Rodgers took over from coaching great Tommy Prothro, and "coached" the preseason 15th ranked Bruins to a last place finish in the conference. That team had five home games (remember back in the day, teams only played 10 games, so you could not rack up "most wins in three years" like you can now to prove your greatness). And the 1971 Bruins lost every one of those home games.
In the years since, UCLA has not lost three home games in a row. Not at any point in the later years of the Terry Donahue era, not in any losing season under Bob Toledo, not even in the trough in UCLA football fortunes which occured in the Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel periods. That could all come to an end tonight, as the Bruins are coming off consecutive losses at home to Utah and Oregon. If Jim Mora is as good as his defenders say he is, this nonsense will come to a close, and not a moment too soon. The Bruins are playing to stay in the hunt for Levi's Stadium (and I don't mean to play in the San Francisco Bowl).
Tonight's roadblock (should be speed bump, but not this year)- Arizona. Chris Foster has a preview of tonight's game in the LA Times. And Jack Wang looks at the upcoming game in the LA Daily News.
If the Bruins can win tonight, we will be 4-2 in conference play. That will put us no worse than 3rd place in the Pac-12 South, and we could be as high as 2nd depending on what happens in other games. If the Bruins match a record for home futility not seen since 1971 and lose tonight, we will be 3-3 in conference play. That will keep us stuck firmly in 5th place in the Pac-12 South, and two games out of first with three to play, with the tiebreakers working against us. In other words, the Bruins would be able to get to Levi's Stadium only by buying tickets for the conference championship game, or by being in the Dorrellian San Francisco Bowl.
So, obviously, a lot is riding on this game. And the game does not start until 7:30 tonight. That is a lot of time to kill. What to do? You could do as I plan to do, which is go wine tasting (I need some fortitude before watching another UCLA game). But even that won't fill the entire time before the game. How about some football?
Here is the lineup for today, courtesy of the SB Nation flagship-
|11:30 AM ET||Air Force||Army||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|Noon p.m. ET||No. 18 Oklahoma||Iowa State||FS1||foxsports.com/foxsportsgo|
|Noon p.m. ET||No. 23 East Carolina||Temple||ESPNews||WatchESPN|
|Noon p.m. ET||No. 24 Duke||Pittsburgh||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|Noon p.m. ET||Maryland||Penn State||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Noon p.m. ET||Northwestern||Iowa||Big Ten Network||btn2go.com|
|Noon p.m. ET||Rice||FIU|
|Noon p.m. ET||UCF||Connecticut||CBSSN|
|Noon p.m. ET||ULM||Texas A&M||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|Noon p.m. ET||Wisconsin||Rutgers||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|12:30 p.m. ET||North Carolina||Miami||ACC Network|
|12:30 p.m. ET||Boston College||Virginia Tech||ACC Network|
|1 p.m. ET||Washington||Colorado||Pac-12 Network||pac-12.com/live|
|1 p.m. ET||Central Michigan||Eastern Michigan||WatchESPN|
|2:30 p.m. ET||Western Michigan||Miami (Ohio)||WatchESPN|
|3 p.m. ET||Western Kentucky||Louisiana Tech||FSN||foxsports.com/foxsportsgo|
|3 p.m. ET||NC State||Syracuse||RSN|
|3:30 p.m. ET||Purdue||No. 15 Nebraska||ABC or ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|3:30 p.m. ET||No. 7 TCU||No. 20 West Virginia||ABC or ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|3:30 p.m. ET||Florida||No. 11 Georgia||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|3:30 p.m. ET||Georgia State||Appalachian State||WatchESPN|
|3:30 p.m. ET||Virginia||Georgia Tech||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|3:30 p.m. ET||Indiana||Michigan||Big Ten Network||btn2go.com|
|3:30 p.m. ET||BYU||Middle Tennessee||CBSSN|
|4 p.m. ET||Kansas||No. 12 Baylor||FS1||foxsports.com/foxsportsgo|
|4 p.m. ET||Kentucky||Missouri||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|4 p.m. ET||Texas State||New Mexico State||WatchESPN|
|4 p.m. ET||Houston||South Florida||ESPNews||WatchESPN|
|4:30 p.m. ET||USC||Washington State||Pac-12 Network||pac-12.com/live|
|5 p.m. ET||Arkansas State||Idaho||WatchESPN|
|5 p.m. ET||South Alabama||Louisiana||WatchESPN|
|5:30 p.m. ET||New Mexico||UNLV||ROOT|
|7 p.m. ET||UAB||Florida Atlantic||Sinclair|
|7 p.m. ET||No. 3 Auburn||No. 4 Ole Miss||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|7 p.m. ET||Colorado State||San Jose State||CBSSN|
|7 p.m. ET||Old Dominion||Vanderbilt||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|7:15 p.m. ET||Arkansas||No. 1 Mississippi State||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|7:30 p.m. ET||Stanford||No. 5 Oregon||FOX||foxsports.com/foxsportsgo|
|7:30 p.m. ET||Tennessee||South Carolina||SEC Network||WatchESPN|
|7:30 p.m. ET||Texas||Texas Tech||FS1||foxsports.com/foxsportsgo|
|8 p.m. ET||Oklahoma State||No. 9 Kansas State||ABC||abc.go.com/watch-live|
|8 p.m. ET||No. 10 Notre Dame||Navy||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|8 p.m. ET||Illinois||No. 16 Ohio State||ABC||WatchESPN|
|8 p.m. ET||Southern Miss||UTEP||FCS|
|10:30 p.m. ET||San Diego State||Nevada||CBSSN|
|10:30 p.m. ET||California||Oregon State||Pac-12 Network||pac-12.com/live|
|10:30 p.m. ET||No. 12 Arizona||No. 22 UCLA||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|10:45 p.m. ET||Wyoming||Fresno State||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|11 p.m. ET||No. 17 Utah||No. 14 Arizona State||FS1||foxsports.com/foxsportsgo|
|11 p.m. ET||Utah State||Hawaii||Oceanic||themw.com/#!/watch-live|
As you can see, there are plenty of options. The game with the most immediate impact on UCLA's future is the 8 pm (Pacific) game between Utah (3-1 in the conference) and Arizona State (4-1 in the conference). As noted above, if UCLA loses tonight, nothing else really matters in terms of the Bruins' path to the conference championship. But if the Bruins win, then Utah-Arizona State is big. The other team in the mix in the Pac-12 South, $C, is at Washington State in an earlier game.
The representative in the conference championship game from the Pac-12 North will be decided today, for all intents and purposes, if Oregon can beat Stanford in Eugene. That game is at 4:30 pm (Pacific). If Oregon wins, they will be at least two up in the loss column on every other Pac-12 North team with three games to play. And the Ducks will be on pace to try to break the SEC stranglehold on the College Football Playoff rankings, and grab a top four spot. But Stanford has had Oregon's number in recent years, so this could be worth a watch.
Speaking of the SEC, the national game of the week involves two teams currently ranked in the top four, both from the SEC. The game will be televised on ESPN- there's a surprise. #3 Auburn travels to #4 Ole Miss, with the winner taking a giant step to the National Semi's, and the loser hoping that the ESPN/SEC magic works to keep them right in the mix despite the loss. All will be revealed as the game is played, and as the next rankings come out.
Get ready for a lot of football. Fire away with your thoughts as the day unfolds.