» I mentioned it in my story from UCLA’s 38-20 win over USC last night, but it’s worth repeating again: For the first time ever, the Bruins’ football program has three straight nine-win seasons.
Several times before, UCLA had gotten close. The Bruins had back-to-back nine-win seasons in the mid-1950s, but those were bracketed by a eight- and seven-win campaigns. Tommy Prothro opened his tenure a decade later with eight, nine and seven wins. And from 1982-88, Terry Donahue had five nine- or 10-win seasons broken up by seven wins in 1983 and eight wins in 1986.
Last month, Jim Mora got particularly defensive about the Bruins’ lackluster midseason performances, and challenged everyone to find a stretch of UCLA football that’s better than this one — considering youth and turnover. With UCLA potentially in line to win 11 games for the first time, his argument looks stronger by the week.
» How much has the rivalry swung? UCLA hasn’t won three straight games over USC by double digits since 1952-55, when Red Sanders coached the Bruins to 13-0, 34-0, and 17-7 victories.
» Brett Hundley finished the game against USC with all types of new UCLA records, passing Cade McNown to become the new career leader in total offensive yards (11,353) and extending his own mark of 300-yard total offense games to 19. He had his 10th career 300-yard passing game, and needs just one more to tie McNown. He ran for his 28th career touchdown, which breaks his tie with John Sciarra and puts him alone in second behind Gary Beban (35) among Bruin quarterbacks.
But despite finishing 22-of-31 for 326 yards and three touchdown passes, it was not an overly impressive game for the redshirt junior. He didn’t see the defender on his early interception near the sideline, and it was the type of coverage that had cost him turnovers before. A lot of his longer passes also benefited from yards after the catch by his receivers, or poor coverage by USC, or both.
It’s clear, however, that he trusts his offensive line more and more — something offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone confirmed after the game. He has good reason. UCLA has allowed 32 sacks this season, but just eight in its last five games. That stretch coincides with when Conor McDermott taking over as starting left tackle.
» The defensive line played its best game of the season, finally generating the type of pass rush that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had promised would come for most of the season. Continue reading