Not Funning –The last 3 Bruin games have turned out drastically different than I expected, and tonight it will take clever, creative coaching by Jim Mora and staff to break their losing streak to Stanford, thereby shocking me for the 4th time in a row
After UCLA’s first two games this season — blowouts over Virginia and UNLV — I was feeling really optimistic about the Bruins’ chances for a run of greatness that would snowball throughout the year. The third week brought BYU to the Rose Bowl, for what I thought would be a third straight thrashing. As it turned out, BYU gave the Bruins all they could handle, with UCLA barely escaping with a 1-point victory. That was stunner #1. Then we lost Myles Jack to an injury, which left us 3 Defensive Starters down, heading into hostile Arizona, where I expected a very tough challenge. The Bruins went on to annihilate the Wildcats. That was stunner #2. Then I decided that the Defense absorbed the injury losses just fine, and we would also kill ASU, who just got creamed by sc. But the Sun Devils — or should I say STUN Devils — humbled the Bruins in the Rose Bowl. — Stunner #3.
Soooooo…. Now that I realize that the Bruins are mortal and vulnerable, and are 6.5-point underdogs playing on the road in Palo Alto against a team that has never lost to the Mora Bruins, I am sadly (realistically) expecting an unhappy outcome. Can I please be DEAD WRONG for the fourth time in a row?
It’s not that I think the game is unwinnable. Pac-12 ROAD teams have been doing much better than anticipated over the last year or so, UCLA has won a dozen straight away from home, and Mora’s teams are undefeated on Thursdays and after byes. That being said, Stanford QB Kevin Hogan has had career games against UCLA for some reason, and now he is facing a shell of the Defensive unit that started the year. However, Hogan has never faced a Bruin D coached by Tom Bradley, who has had a few extra days to prepare. So maybe the Stanford Offense won’t erupt for a half-dozen TD’s. But will the Bruin Offense be able to hold their own?
Stanford has a reputation for being super-tough at the line of scrimmage, so UCLA will probably have to exploit quickness, misdirection, and the element of surprise, getting the ball to the outside via screens, fly sweeps, and even trick plays — anything to avoid the predictable runs up the middle that have sometimes failed to produce, especially in the loss to ASU.
Anyway, it is a great opportunity for UCLA to rebound from a devastating loss, by upsetting the #15 team in the Country, on National TV. With an NFL game and the Dodger-Met Game 5 both ending during the UCLA game, a lot of viewers will probably tune in to see who the best team in the West is. West of Utah, that is.
Speaking of Best in the West, I now bring you 71 more photos of the Best Spirit Squad in the West… West of the Atlantic Ocean, that is. And by the way, the pic ABOVE, right under the headline, at the top of this article, is Rachael from the Cheer Squad. I selected this shot, because I think it is one of the most stunning pics I’ve taken all year. Sometimes the lighting, focus, facial expression, and hair position all just come together and blow me away, and that one is a perfect example of that. The 71 below start off with some more of Rachael, and then all 22 of the other girls from the Cheer Squad and Dance Team. Click on the pics to enlarge them, and come back for more this week — I actually have 225 more photos of them from the ASU game, ready to share.