The UCLA team finished the regular season as the AAWU (Pac-8) conference champions. In the Rose Bowl game, UCLA upset top-ranked and undefeated Michigan State, who had beaten them in the season opener in September. The Bruins finished at 8–2–1, as the above-mentioned loss to the Spartans as well as a defeat on the road to No. 7 Tennessee by only three points. They also on the road tied Missouri at 14 points a piece.
The Bruins played well overall on the season having outscored their opponents 257 to 168. UCLA that season was led by quarterback Gary Beban, running back Mike Garrett, wide receiver Dick Witcher, and defensive back Mel Farr. This was also their first conference championship since 1954
Overall Record: 8-2-1
Conference Record: 4-1
Ranked: No. 4 in the AP Poll
The 1997 UCLA Bruins started the season 0-2 losing their season opener on the road to Washington State by only three points in a high-scoring game and then they lost to No. 3 ranked Tennessee by six points. However, they finished in a tie for first place in the Pac-10 with the Cougars who they lost to in their season opener, and played in the Cotton Bowl game where they defeated Texas A&M, 29–23.
The Bruins were led by quarterback Cade McNown, who was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. McNown finished the season with 3,481 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. He also rushed for 463 yards and three touchdowns.
Other key contributors for the Bruins included running back Skip Hicks, who rushed for 1,131 yards and 10 touchdowns, and wide receiver J.J. Stokes, who caught 60 passes for 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns.
The 1997 UCLA Bruins football team was one of the most successful teams in school history. They finished the season with a 10–2 record, their best since 1985, and they were ranked as high as fifth in the national polls. The Bruins also won their first bowl game since 1990.
Overall Record: 10-2
Conference Record: 7-1
Ranked: No. 5 in the AP Poll