As we get ready for the upcoming 2014-15 UCLA football season, let us not forget exactly how they got here. Here is a recap of the 2013 season.
Vs Nevada, W 58-20
In the season opener, the Bruins came in with a lot of expectations for the new season, especially after they swallowed a bitter pill in the form of a Holiday Bowl loss to Baylor. It all started with a game against the Nevada Wolfpack in which UCLA did not start the game at the fast pace they were hoping for. At halftime, the Wolfpack were a touchdown away from gaining the lead as they trailed the Bruins 17-13. That all changed in the second half when UCLA piled on 41 more points and finished the game with 647 total yards behind a 2 passing touchdown, 2 rushing touchdown performance by sophomore QB Brett Hundley. The Bruins were off to a great start, which could not be said about individual games.
At #23 Nebraska, W 41-21
One of the toughest weeks in UCLA football history had shockingly ended with a statement victory. The previous weekend, walk-on wide receiver Nick Pasquale was hit by a car and killed in his hometown of San Clemente. No one was sure how to handle this, let alone a nationally televised game against a favored Nebraska Cornhuskers. Football seemed to be the least of both teams worries… but Husker fans help the Bruin Faithful through by honoring Pasquale before the game. Then there was a game to be played and at one point, UCLA was down 21-3 with just over two minutes left in the first half. That is when the Bruins made their move. UCLA scored 38 unanswered points and shut the Cornhuskers out in the second half. This victory meant way more than a “W”.
Once again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you Nebraska. Two schools, one team.
I love my school and the family we become on Saturdays. Classiest bunch of fans around. RIP NP. Two schools, one team pic.twitter.com/Wpjec5nw0j
— Renee Craft (@ReneeCraft44) September 15, 2013
Vs New Mexico State, W59-13
It was now UCLA’s turn to honor Pasquale as they put his name and number down on the Rose Bowl field, sold “36″ t-shirts benefitting the Nick Pasquale Foundation and even brought his family in to help honor his memory. The best part was the first Bruin play from scrimmage where they had only ten men on the field, leaving that 11th spot open for Pasquale. Total class by head coach Jim Mora, but then it was time to get down to business. What is the closest to UCLA scheduling a FCS cupcake (UCLA, USC and Notre Dame are the only schools to never play a Division II/ FCS school), ended in a cupcake-like massacre. Brett Hundley and the Bruins put up 692 yards against the eventual 2-10 team that kept the Bruins undefeated going into Pac-12 play.
At Utah, W 34-27
Sure the Bruins were riding a 3-0 wave into Salt Lake City on a cold, snowy Thursday night, but it was now time for conference play and even thought the Utes were not expected to finish in the top half of the South Division, they sure did not play like it as Utah had battled with UCLA all game long. There were casualties in the process which nearly included Hundley who had to sit out a series. Ultimately, it was the defense’s coming out party that secured the win for the Bruins. Not only did UCLA pick off Utah QB Travis Wilson six times in the game, but none of those interceptions were more important than the last one by an unknown freshman by the name of Myles Jack, picking off Wilson in the final seconds of a dying Utah effort. The Bruins had escaped the SLC.
Vs California, W 37-10
Defeating big brother sounds a bit “Orwellian”, but that is what UCLA did to the struggling Golden Bears. The season before, UCLA lost 43-17 at Cal behind a 4-interception performance by Hundley. It was not pretty and the Bruins had no problem remembering the beat down at Memorial Coliseum. UCLA had dominated the Bears in every aspect of the game and let big brother know that little brother is not backing down, especially when little brother has a great QB throwing 3 TDs in a game. It was a great win, but the biggest challenges were to come in the next two weeks.
At #13 Stanford, L 10-24
UCLA was within a touchdown of taking the Pac-12 championship the previous season against Stanford, giving UCLA great momentum to work with. Unfortunately, no one told the Bruins that the Cardinal are momentum killers. The Bruins did a great job keeping the game close as the score was 3-0 in favor of Stanford at halftime. But as Stanford does, they limited everything UCLA did and silenced their up-tempo offense for a very bitter loss up at the farm. Stanford would go on to win their second Pac-12 Championship in a row.
At #2 Oregon, L 42-14
Another promising game brought the Bruins back down to Earth in another second half drubbing. The Bruins were shocking the world as they were tied with Oregon at halftime 14-14. Oregon then shut out the Bruins and scored 28 points for the win behind a 3 touchdown performance by RB Byron Marshall. Two losses in a row was not what the Bruins were looking to accomplish and left them in a bit of a hole trying to get that top spot in the South Division.
Vs Colorado, W 45-23
UCLA was looking to get back on the winning track after going 2-2 in their first four Pac-12 games. Thank god lowly Colorado was in town. It seemed as if the Bruins were not getting anything besides a win, but UCLA had once again started off very sluggish. Colorado was in the game, with the Bruins only leading 21-13 at halftime. After a chippy second half and a sloppy penalty-riddled game, UCLA prevailed for the “W” with a step in the right direction to go 3-2 in conference.
At Arizona, W 31-26
Basically, UCLA Jack’d Arizona as the Bruins unveiled their secret offensive weapon: Myles Jack. Having suffered a slew of injuries to the running backs, UCLA instilled a “power package”, that was meant to give them a few extra ground-and-pound yards. What they got was a superstar in the making. Jack not only played both sides of the ball (well), but he finished with 120 yards and a 66-yard touchdown run that immortalized him as the Bruin’s savior, so to speak. The Bruins had escaped Tucson, a place they have not been very lucky at in the past few seasons.
Vs Washington, W 41-31
UCLA’s secret weapon was no longer a secret. Word around the nation was that Jack was a specimen to behold and everyone got a chance to witness the awesomeness that is Myles when the Bruins played the Washington Huskies on this “L.A. Midnight” game. Jack was once again called into action as the Bruins needed some ferocity to defeat an up-and-coming Husky team. Fortunately for UCLA, Jack was too much for Washington as he pulled out a 4 TD performance. The last time a Bruin had a 4 TD performance… 2004 by Maurice Jones-Drew… against the Washington Huskies.
Vs #19 Arizona State, L 38-33
If the Bruins win, they get one more shot to win the South Division. If they lose, Arizona State goes to the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Bruins were bruised and battered at this point, especially at the RB spot. Myles Jack was once again called into offensive action, but the strong defense of the Sun Devils had prevented any of that from UCLA. Jack was over-utilized at RB which pulled him from his natural LB duties. Because of that, ASU’s explosive offense was able to capitalize on the weakened Brun D. Arizona State had prevailed leaving only one thing for the Bruins to play for… the Crosstown Rivalry.
At #23 USC, W 35-14
The Rivalry Game. The game in which interim head coach Ed Orgeron said something about “locking the gates” on the “boys from across town” and beating them, or something like that. It did not end quite as he imagined as UCLA controlled every aspect of this game. Former Bruins Anthony Barr and Cassius Marsh were huge on defense while Hundley had the offense firing on all cylinders. He even said something that has been locked into both UCLA and USC fan’s memories for the last nine months: “UCLA runs LA. Everybody knows that.”
Hyundai Sun Bowl, Vs Virginia Tech W 42-12
Riding high on a wave of Trojan Domination, UCLA was looking to get Mora his first bowl victory after taking a beating from Baylor the year before. The Bruins had started the game fairly slow… again. UCLA went into the half up 14-7 against Virginia Tech, but not without Jordan Zumwalt literally knocking Hokie QB Logan Thomas out of the game. VT was off their game in the second half which is when the Bruins struck. Hundley had 2 rushing and 2 passing touchdowns. Jack had a pick six. Former punter Sean Covington stepped on the end line for a safety, there was madness in every direction. It was right there in that warm El Paso sun that UCLA realized that something was Bruin here.
This was not chance. Mora has taken over and he is made UCLA a beast.