UCLA football 2017 schedule preview: Oregon

First-year Oregon head coach Willie Taggart greets fans at a men’s basketball game. (Photo: Chris Pietsch, AP Photo)

Oregon at UCLA
Saturday, Oct. 21 | Rose Bowl

Willie Taggart is the first Oregon head coach hired from outside the program since 1976. The transition was a tough one.

In the first three months of the former South Florida head coach’s Oregon tenure, one of his new assistants resigned, another jumped ship for a different Pac-12 school and a strength coach was suspended after several players were hospitalized after intense offseason workouts.

When spring practice finally opened April, Taggart started the process of resurrecting the Ducks (4-8, 2-7 Pac-12 last year) after the team’s sudden fall from grace. In remaking a program only three years removed from a College Football Playoff berth, the 40-year-old head coach and his staff quickly gained the trust of his players.

“They all click on the same page,” sophomore linebacker Bryson Young told The Oregonian of said of the new staff. “I can compare it to last year where it just seemed like everybody was in their separate worlds. (Now) when we go into our individual meetings and then go into our group (meeting), everybody is saying the same thing. They’re all on the same page, which is really good for us as a defense because then we’re all on the same page.”

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UCLA football 2017 schedule preview: Arizona

Brandon Dawkins (13) will battle Khalil Tate for Arizona’s starting quarterback job. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

UCLA at Arizona
Saturday, Oct. 14 | Arizona Stadium

Arizona fell from first in the Pac-12 South in 2014 to fifth in one year, then slid one rung lower in 2016, bottoming out with only one conference win.

The Wildcats (3-9, 1-8 Pac-12 last year) continued to struggle defensively in 2016, but were also had one of the most anemic offenses in the league. Despite leading the conference in rushing, Arizona was the Pac-12’s lowest-scoring team with only 24.8 points.

An unsettled quarterback competition and more shuffling on the defensive coaching staff leave the Wildcats with a lot of questions heading into the season.

“We’ve just got so many unknown guys that I think have the talent and are going to be good enough to win with, but until they do it in a game, you don’t really know,” head coach Rich Rodriguez told the Arizona Daily Star. “I feel good about their attitude. I think we’ve got a bunch of guys who love football. There’s no question we’ll be better.”

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UCLA links: Josh Rosen named to O’Brien Award Watch List

UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) during the UCLA football Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 29, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

UCLA’s Josh Rosen is one of four Pac-12 quarterbacks named to the watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award, which honors the nation’s top quarterback.

The SEC had the most nominations for a single conference with six, and the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 each had four on the 30-man watch list. USC’s Sam Darnold, Washington’s Jake Browning and Washington State’s Luke Falk were also named to this year’s watch list.

Before a shoulder injury derailed his sophomore season, Rosen was the first true freshman to be named a semifinalist for the O’Brien Award since USC’s Matt Barkley in 2009. Troy Aikman won UCLA’s only O’Brien Award in 1988.

A list of the Bruins included on watch lists so far:

  • Josh Rosen (Maxwell — best college playerl O’Brien — best quarterback)
  • Kenny Young (Bednarik — best defensive player; Butkus — best linebacker; Wuerffel — best community servant)
  • Scott Quessenberry (Rimington — best center; Outland — best interior lineman)
  • Austin Roberts (Mackey — best tight end)
  • Jaleel Wadood (Thorpe — best defensive back)

Other links:

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UCLA football 2017 schedule preview: Colorado

Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay, front, celebrates after scoring a touchdown against UCLA during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Colorado at UCLA
Saturday, Sept. 30 | Rose Bowl

Colorado ascended from the Pac-12 South cellar to the Pac-12 Championship Game in just one year. On social media, the Buffaloes (10-4, 8-1 Pac-12 last year) dubbed the stunning climb “The Rise.” This year, the team’s defining social media phrase demands that the Buffaloes “never stop rising.”

“They know they can do it now,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said on the first day of spring practice. “Last year everybody was laughing at us. Now we want to go do it. We didn’t finish it last year.”

No team has ever won back-to-back Pac-12 South titles and no Pac-12 South team has won the conference championship. UCLA is the only team to represent the South in the Pac-12 championship game in back-to-back years, but participated in the 2011 game because USC was ineligible for postseason competition.

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Men’s basketball: Hall of Fame Classic championship matchups set

Center Thomas Welsh’s is  UCLA’s only returning starter from last year’s team that made it to the Sweet 16. (Harry How/Getty Images)

UCLA finalized its 2017-18 nonconference schedule Tuesday as the Hall of Fame Classic filled out its championship round pairings. The Bruins will face Creighton in the opening game of the championship round on Nov. 20 in Kansas City, Mo., at 6:30 p.m. PT, then face either Baylor or Wisconsin on Nov. 21.

UCLA, Creighton, Baylor and Wisconsin are the host participants for the Hall of Fame Classic and will each play two games at home before advancing to the championship round in Kansas City.

Creighton (25-10 last year) shared an NCAA Regional host with UCLA, but lost to 11th-seeded Rhode Island in the first round of the tournament in Sacramento. Baylor (27-8) and Wisconsin (29-9) both lost in the Sweet 16.

With the selection committee placing greater emphasis on road wins this year, the Hall of Fame Classic’s potential matchups guarantees UCLA a valuable neutral game against an opponent that finished last year in the top 16. Wisconsin was ranked 16th in the final AP Poll while Baylor was No. 12. A neutral game against a top-50 team is included in the most valuable games for a team during selection time, according to the committee’s revised criteria. Other games in that top category include home games against top-30 teams and road games against teams in the top 75.

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