UCLA Football Under Terry Donahue – 1996-2015

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Jan 31, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; Former Tennessee Volunteers head football coach Phillip Fulmer during the game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Auburn Tigers at Thompson-Boling Arena. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

1998

The ’98 season is something out of a dream. After going 6-5 and 10-2 the previous two years, the Bruins start 10-0, powered by the high-flying offense of Cade McNown, Jermaine Lewis, DeShaun Foster, Danny Farmer, and Brian Poli-Dixon. This is the season Donahue envisioned when he decided to stay on at UCLA. The Bruins look like they could contend for the inaugural BCS National Championship.

On December 5, UCLA travels to Miami to play a game that was rescheduled from earlier in the season due to Hurricane Georges. Things get a little wacky, and the Bruins have a close call, but Rocky Long‘s defense gets a crucial stop late in the game, shutting down Edgerrin James and the Miami offense. The Bruins win their 21st straight victory extending back across two seasons, to reach 11-0 and nab the crucial No. 2 ranking when Kansas State stumbles against No. 10 Texas A&M.

Facing Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl, the Bruins’ 5th ranked offense struggles against the Vols’ 8th ranked defense. UCLA on defense has trouble bottling up the potent rushing options of Travis Henry, Jamal Lewis, and a very mobile Tee Martin at quarterback. Ultimately, UCLA falls short, losing to Tennessee 28-17.

Cade McNown finishes second in Heisman voting. Long moves on to take a head coaching vacancy at his alma mater, New Mexico. Offensive Coordinator Bob Toledo is hired to be the new head coach at Duke. Donahue brings in Phil Snow of Arizona State to be the Bruins’ next defensive coordinator and Al Borges of Oregon as the offensive coordinator.

Next: 2000