Sep 17, 2011; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins safety Dietrich Riley (1) celebrates with UCLA Bruins fullback Damien Thigpen (25) after making an interception against the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

“ACU” Official Pac-12 CFB Preview: 2012 UCLA Bruins

UCLA BRUINS

This week in our Pac12 college football preview we feature the UCLA Bruins.  Last year the Bruins finished 6-6 regular season then dropped the Pac12 Title game to Oregon before losing in San Francisco to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
UCLA was very inconsistent last year putting only 2 back to back victories together.  A rundown of their whacky season goes something like this: They started their season with a loss at Houston in a tight battle losing only 38-34 to the season long BCS hopefuls.  After that slow start UCLA bounced back with a home victory over San Jose State winning 27-17.  Then very unfortunately the Bruins turned around and were destroyed at home as the Texas Longhorns avenged a tough loss from the previous season 49-20.  After that the Bruins hit the road and beat Oregon State in Corvallis to open the conference schedule 27-19. The week after that they were on the road again and ran into more than they could handle at Stanford losing big 45-19.  After that they returned to Pasadena and put together a game winning drive to beat Washington State 28-25 and then went right back on the road for a week and lost a really tough game to Arizona 48-12, as fumbles took the Bruins out of the game in the second half.
Finally UCLA broke through in back to back weeks, putting victories together by defeating a tough Cal team and then a reeling ASU. With those wins the Bruins slid into first place in the Pac12 South.  But then came a deflating road loss to Utah as the Utes marched all over UCLA  31-6. The Bruins played their best game of the season to clinch the South though the week following, destroying Colorado at home 45-6. And to end the season the Bruins best performance was followed by their worst as their cross town rivals embarrassed them with a 50-0 slaughter.  The Bruins continued to the Pac12 championship game but had nothing left after their coach was fired and lost to the powerhouse that is Oregon 49-31.
UCLA finished their season with a bowl game but lost a tough one to Illinois 20-14.
Tough to follow? Yeah, the Bruin faithful couldn’t follow it either? So what can we expect this season from UCLA?
The Good: A new coach in Jim Mora and UCLA is returning a lot of key talent. Even though the QB position is a competition in the spring I feel as though the Bruins will finally have some consistent leadership from that position whoever ends up starting in the fall, just gotta keep him/them healthy.  The Bruins also did great things in the off season grabbing the 3rd best recruiting class in the Pac12. So on one hand, UCLA is on the right path to improve on their previous season and they could put themselves into contention again to claim the #1 spot in the Pac12 South which gives them great opportunity for a big time bowl. UCLA will have leadership and exciting new talent heading into the 2012-2013 season and if they can tap into that while staying healthy they will be more consistent and avoid dropping those huge losses and pull out the closer games.
The Bad: On the other hand, UCLA has really battled the injury bug the last few seasons and if that happens again they will continue their week to week inconsistency. With the Pac12 being loaded like it is, a performance like last year wont land them anywhere near a title.  The biggest problem UCLA faces however is not internal, but rather it looks to be in how improved every opponent will be, not to mention the fact that their cross town rivals will be eligible for a conference title again. UCLA is going to have to make major improvements on the offensive line and keep their QBs safe.  Speaking of QB’s, one of them has to step up and lead this team.
Also, UCLA’s improvements seem to be minor in comparison to the other teams in the Pac12 south.  The already capable Utah and USC are two big examples.  Time will tell but we will see if UCLA can hold up against the up and comers in the Pac12.
Summary: So where do we expect UCLA to end up in the Pac12 South? I’m guessing about 3rd place.  I see the bruins in a lot of close matches this year but I don’t think they will be improved enough (this year) to win the South again.  Heck, we don’t know how they won it last season! But we will see what plays out in the Fall. 
Next week we’ll go across LA into the world of USC.  Stay tuned to see all 12 team previews here on All Coug’d Up.

Tags: Football Jim Mora Pac-12 Football Pac-12 Preview Ucla Bruins

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