Bruins headed for all-or-almost nothing

Forget 11 games, forget more turbulence than a Midwest thunderstorm, forget anything about anything prior to 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

That was UCLA’s plan.

Win the next three hours and win the Pac-12 South division outright, a defiant showing against crosstown rival USC at Los Angeles Coliseum giving both teams identical 6-3 conference records and UCLA the title.

That was UCLA’s plan.

But a 50-0 loss to the Trojans has the Bruins crawling up to Eugene, barely dragging themselves over the state line and into what is expected to be a raucous Autzen Stadium
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“We didn’t want to sneak in there because of a technicality, we didn’t want to be an asterisk in the record books,” junior quarterback Kevin Prince said. “We wanted to earn it.”

Instead, UCLA ekes into the conference’s inaugural showcase after suffering its fifth blowout loss of the season, which dropped its record to 6-6.

The mere appearance of the Bruins in what was expected to be a star-studded affair has roundly drawn criticism from across the country. Most had simply thought Utah would defeat heavy underdog Colorado in Salt Lake City on Friday night. Instead, the Utes missed three crucial field goals in a 17-14 loss to the Buffaloes.

Insert UCLA.

Insert punchline.

National media has taken to Twitter to thrash the Bruins, the Trojans sported “2011 South Division Champion” T-shirts and UCLA will likely be fodder for late-night television by Monday night.

The only thing louder than Autzen Stadium on Friday night might be the backlash on the Bruins championship berth.

“I don’t care what people think,” UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said. “As far as I know, they’re sending a plane to pick us up and we’re gonna get on it.”

Added junior cornerback Andrew Abbott: “It’s basically all or nothing. We didn’t do it (Saturday), so this is it. Lay it all on the line. Let the chips fall where they may.”

The Bruins know the alternative.

This isn’t a poker game, it’s a high-stakes slot machine, with just two results: Either UCLA advances to the Rose Bowl or it becomes bowl ineligible at 6-7, forced to petition the NCAA for a waiver just to appear in a low-level bowl.

This is no $6 jackpot on the line.

“We’re aware of the stakes,” Prince said. “It would’ve been nice to have won this one and not have to worry about the whole petition part of it, and now it’s win or go home, pretty much for us. We have to win to make a dream come true.”

The players are dreaming because their reality is so dire.

Neuheisel made the rounds throughout UCLA locker room on Saturday night to comfort the players, offering pep talks to the more forlorn.

Minutes earlier he had trudged off the Los Angeles Coliseum field surrounded by four police officers, rushing to catch up to junior tight end Joseph Fauria, whose massive shoulders on his 6-foot-8 frame were drooped to about three inches off the ground.

“What the head coach and I discussed was between he and I, but at the same time, it was positive. He’s a positive guy, and right there I kind of needed that, because it it’s difficult walking off that field knowing we left some stuff on there.”

Neuheisel knows because he’s been there.

Four previous times this year, in fact.

The loss to USC was the Bruins’ fifth of more than 25 points.

“If you’re not careful, you can leave a locker room feeling like the coaches feel it’s all the players’ fault,” Neuheisel said. “I think it’s important to realize we’re in this together and that we’re a team and that we share in victory just as we share in defeat.”

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  • UCLADDS

    This team has more “shoulda, coulda, woulda” excuses than a pee-wee football team. Quit the excuses. If you are no good, just say it. Or just quit football in all or move to the Ivy league. Stop pretending. You are breaking all the alumni’s heart and piggybank. I can’t believe I spend $ on this garbage. Please stop calling us to ask to donate to any UCLA funds. You will get cussed at. Damn you people at the Morgan Center. You actually get paid for this useless work you put it. Alumni out.

  • BruinGirl

    Have there been any other instances where the fans of one of the teams going into a championship game feels like their guys shouldn’t be there? I feel a collective sense of dread amongst my fellow Bruin fans.

  • Tien

    “Please stop calling us to ask to donate to any UCLA funds. You will get cussed at. Damn you people at the Morgan Center”

    You’re cussing out 18/19 year old kids doing an honest job to earn money to pay off their tuition fees that have jumped up like crazy, because a bunch of 18/19 year old kids haven’t performed up to the level of your expectation playing a game for 6 or so Saturdays this year?

    Forget about the top class professors doing world-leading research that actually matter in this world, or even the 100+ championships this school has brought in and countless olympians its produced–your degree is worth more than the kids that take the football field every Saturday for a few months out of the year.

    Please tell me the rest of our alumni are not so petty and immature.

  • Bruin Forever

    Tien – Thanks! I too am bummed and disappointed. Yes, I am bummed by our team’s record this year. It would have been nice to have pounded USC. It would have been fun and made ME feel good. More importantly however, I am disappointed in many UCLA alum. They have put so much pressure on the team (in the 18-22 year old players) this year. They have given away some of our home field advantage by booing the team, and whinning. By constantly gripping that they want Neu fired. I personally am a big Neu supporter. I love that our Coach is an alum and bleeds blue. I love that he came to this school to revitalize the program because he too is a Bruin. I personally believe we will never know for sure whether the team would be doing better if we had given them our full support… they have the players, they have restructured much of the coaching staff, and we have Hundley, who came to play with Neu as his Coach… an unfortunate basketball injury kept him from practicing this summer. I personally am ashamed to be a Bruin this week, and it isn’t because we lost to USC. It is because too many have us have shown no class.

  • Anonymous

    It’s nice to read some positive good-hearted comments here. I’m as bummed as anyone about our football team, but the sentiments of Tien and Bruin Forever are refreshing. I’ve been spending too much time on Bruins Nation. Comments like the ones above would be deleted and the posters would be attacked by the moderators and probably called “Trogans.”

    There’s way more to life than football.

  • MoeBruins

    To Anonymous,

    I read most things Bruin but I can tell you I shut off Bruins Nation website about a year or so ago.

    Yes Neuheisal needs to go. Yes strange things have been going on with our basketball team and the people transferring out are outplaying the guys who stayed.

    But show some class, some loyalty and quite calling out student athletes playing their butts off and in some cases having pro careers lost in the process (i.e. football) because of weak coaching. Call out the pro’s but not our students and never boo the guys playing just because the results are less then desired.

    Moe

  • Surrender Monkey

    Are we going to wear those awful jerseys again?

  • Anonymous

    Jon, TONS of rumors running rampant on BRO that Chris Petersen to UCLA is a done deal? This came sort of out of nowhere tonight, are you hearing any of these reports? I would never say done until a press conference, but I have no idea where all this is even coming from. If true, I would poop my pants though.

  • Dean

    It’s just too bad our D coordinator is so terrible. Just rewatching the game yesterday, when we lined up in zone, their team adjusted and the receiver found a spot. When we lined up in man, they ran a slant. But most of the time, we famously lined up 15 yards off the ball, and they ran hitches or flanker screens to take advantage. As the announcers pointed out, Barkley optioned out of run plays to take this advantage.

    Their last TD was atrocious. I was sitting right there at the Coli and yelled, unfortunately not loud enough, “Why isn’t that guy covered?!” before the ball was snapped. Well, it turned out to be Woods and he caught a 40 yard TD pass, uncovered.

    Of course I want Tressey to succeed, he’s our guy right now, and it’s hard to pass judgement when you don’t have all of the facts, but the general scheming all year long looks like it is all wrong for this league and football in general.

  • INawe

    Bwahahahahah… Boo hoo for these kids. Please don’t put too much pressure on them. They are just children for God’s sake.

    Please, give me a break. Did you ever play sports in Division I? These athlete’s are young adults and are fully aware of the pressure and SHOULD deal with it. You think it gets any easier for them if they are serious about going Pro? How about the Olympics… that must be easier and less stressful, correct? I don’t think so.

    If these athlete’s don’t want the pressure and can’t take it they can go play in their local park. My goal is not to diss them but I am sure that they are fully aware and welcome the challenges. College sports are not easy. It takes hard work, determination, talent, good coaching, and a little luck to win a championship. Ask the other 100+ UCLA championship teams if they never felt the pressure. You can go and ask them how they dealt with it.

    The delusions need to stop. I hate that UCLA has been getting embarrassed consistently on the field for the past decade. Please stop the madness!

  • fumi346

    How about Kennedy Polamalu from USC. I believe he would make a great head coach, add a little toughness to the Bruins. Someone is going to give him a shot soon, why not us.

  • Anonymous

    When I walk around town sporting a UCLA shirt it has absolutely nothing to do with athletics. I’m proud to have earned a degree at one of the most prestigious universities in the world and not afraid to show it. I have no issue donating when they call me.

    Those that think UCLA is only about athletics either never attended a class there or got nothing from their education.

  • http://paulm Ley

    Who Cares after that type of effort, he’s completely lost this team. DONT EVEN LET THAT PLANE LEAVE THE GROUND!

  • Bob

    When the plane comes to pick up the team can we leave Tresey at the terminal? A bad hire and a terrible defensive scheme was truly the death of the head coach.

  • Unreal…

    That was my first ever USC-UCLA Game. It was the first time in my life I had ever been able to afford to attend the game (Student Loans, Mortgage). It made me sick to be there.

    There has to be a change.

    From a business perspective, it is in UCLA’s best interest to field the best football team possible to drive income for the athletic department and all other programs. A successful football program will make it easier to solicit donations, game attendance will increase, merchandise sales will increase, and better bowls means bigger money.

    If not for the revenue, how about for some pride?

    DG, please fork over a boatload of money to a Herm Edwards or Chris Petersen caliber coach!!!!

    BTW… USC home games are the absolute worst for parking and tailgating. The Rose Bowl is easily ten times better.

  • Anonymous

    @Tien,

    I am more pissed off at the Morgan Center and the people that runs it. Yes we can be proud of the degree we earned at UCLA but we also should have pride in our sports program. To be continually embarassed on national tv is not acceptable. To those of you who thinks it is ok, then you really don’t bleed blue and gold. It is called passion and love for your school to succeed. And yes, I will also stop paying for this garbage.

  • WRSC

    Funeral Announcement

    We deeply regret the passing of ucla football. She collapsed on the night of November 26. Despite the hopes of her family members for a miracle Dr. Neu couldn’t close the gap. She is survived by SlobDusky, ThaiBean, 2 Buck Chuck, Miguelita, and many illegitimate children. Please come and celebrate the lack of life of ucla football.

    Time: December 2, 2011 5pm Pacific Time
    Place: Autzen Stadium
    Dress Code: Anything that isn’t blue and gold. All white will do.

    Please donate your Monopoly money to ucla athletic dept in lieu of flowers.

  • ucla-of-the-rockies

    And now, they are dropping like flies …
    I am shocked to learn that Turner Gil (Kan), Ron Zook (Illini) and Dennis Erickson (ASU) all earned in the neighborhood of 2 million a year. Hell, Erickson (31-30, .517) even had a winning record, far superiour to CRN’s 20-27 (.426) mark.

    I believe it will take at least double CRN’s salary (1.25 mil) to draw the type of leader that can truly turn UCLA football around.

    And because this room is filled with so many hyper-academia types, just know that our STUDENT-athletes never have to suffer just because we have aspirations to reach the top-tier in college football. They can go hand in hand.

    Surely, many of puked when you heard Urban Meyer to Ohio State for 6 mil per year.

    In this biz, you get what you pay for.

    If we wait much longer, all that’s left is Sandusky.

  • The Monopoly Is Over Here

    Remember this Bruins, I break your news before your beloved Jon Gold does…

    Slick Rick, aka the Weasel, “Gone”……

    That is all…

    This is a sad day for Trojan nation, but we welcome the idea of UCLA getting to at least a ‘respectable’ level.

    Bwaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha…

  • Anonymous

    Hey Monopoly,
    Did you really attend SUC or did you go to “Yale”? And how much was tuition? Your ability to post breaking news is amazing. I hope the $ that you spent on that GED at suc is worth it. What a bunch of bandwagoner, non-educated fans that UCLA won’t even look at your application.

  • BruinPain

    NEUHEISEL FIRED !!!

  • Anonymous

    KFI NEWS
    UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel has been fired. But he will lead the team against Oregon during Friday’s Pac-12 championship game.

  • Murshed “Nestor” Zaheed

    I single-handedly got Slick fired. You have my permission to attend UCLA sporting events again…it’s okay. Now back to my regularly-scheduled kabab sucking…