2013 UCLA football's 10 things to know: Ready to become the new kings of L.A.?

Harry How

Jim Mora, Jr., engineered a hell of a turnaround in Year 1 at Westwood, and he's laying a potentially tremendous long-term foundation. But can his Bruins overcome a rough road schedule and a sketchy secondary to make their third straight Pac-12 title game? For more UCLA, visit Bruins Nation.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. A hell of a debut

Remember when, upon hiring Rick Neuheisel, UCLA took out an ad in the L.A. Times proclaiming that, "The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over"? Remember how Neuheisel went 21-30 in four seasons and was fired? Remember how fans reacted when Neuheisel was replaced by Jim Mora, Jr.? Hell, remember how I reacted? Things always turn out exactly how we think they will, don't we?

I wrote that last year, right before UCLA went out and beat USC, 38-28 (its first win over USC by double digits since 1998), to claim the Pac-12 South title.

UCLA was incredibly up and down in 2012. Despite winning nine games and looking absolutely awesome at times, and despite coming within three points of stealing the Pac-12 title from Stanford on the Cardinal's home field, the Bruins also got whipped by California and Baylor and finished just 35th in the F/+ rankings. They were all over the map in 2012, inconsistent in both the inexperienced and just-damn-unstable varieties. The offense was inefficient on the ground, the quarterback took too many sacks, the offensive line was average at best, and the defense struggled versus the pass and was an outright sieve in the red zone.

Jim Mora, Jr., still has some work to do, in other words. But of course he does.

Remember where UCLA was before Mora took over? The Bruins ranked 79th or worse in three of Rick Neuheisel's four seasons in charge; they were 52nd in Off. F/+ and 99th in Def. F/+ in 2011. They had finished with one winning record in five years, and that one winning record was 7-6. UCLA was frustrating at times, but it's hard to deem Mora's first season in Westwood anything other than a colossal success. The team surged on the field, and Mora seems to be shoring up some of last year's weaknesses with steady recruiting. UCLA beat USC, reached the conference title game for the second straight year (and actually earned it this time, as opposed to 2011, when USC was banned from the postseason and everybody else in the South stunk), and won at least nine games for the first time in seven years.

Typically a team regresses a bit in the year following a major surge in the rankings, but with recruiting and better experience, UCLA has at least a shot of bucking that normal progression. Can the Bruins maintain their monopoly on conference title game bids?

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 9-5 | Adj. Record: 9-5 | Final F/+ Rk: 35
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
30-Aug at Rice 49-24 W 46.7 - 23.2 W
8-Sep Nebraska 36-30 W 42.3 - 25.8 W
15-Sep Houston 37-6 W 31.6 - 15.5 W
22-Sep Oregon State 20-27 L 33.5 - 29.6 W
29-Sep at Colorado 42-14 W 22.1 - 27.4 L
6-Oct at California 17-43 L 20.8 - 38.6 L
13-Oct Utah 21-14 W 27.1 - 28.4 L
27-Oct at Arizona State 45-43 W 46.3 - 27.4 W
3-Nov Arizona 66-10 W 37.8 - 10.4 W
10-Nov at Washington State 44-36 W 28.0 - 39.3 L
17-Nov USC 38-28 W 30.8 - 30.8 W
24-Nov Stanford 17-35 L 26.4 - 25.4 W
30-Nov vs. Stanford 24-27 L 42.9 - 23.0 W
27-Dec vs. Baylor 26-49 L 15.0 - 26.3 L
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 34.4 31 27.6 58
Adj. Points Per Game 32.2 37 26.5 52

2. Will the real UCLA please stand up?

A new coach can sometimes benefit from the element of surprise. Opponents cannot scout you when they don't really know what you are going to do, and for the first month of the 2012 season, UCLA took full advantage. Mora inherited a roster that was both underachieving and athletic, made some relatively risky moves (starting a redshirt freshman at quarterback, moving a receiver to starting outside linebacker), and watched them pay off handsomely. And then he watched things fall apart and come back together again.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): UCLA 38.5, Opponent 23.5 (plus-13.0)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 3 games): Opponent 31.5, UCLA 23.3 (minus-6.2)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 6 games): UCLA 35.4, Opponent 26.1 (plus-9.3)

A super-thin defense wavered then rallied, and three tremendous offensive performances -- 486 yards and 45 points in a win over Arizona State that eventually made the difference in the division race, 611 yards and 66 points versus Arizona, and 461 yards and 24 points against a wonderful Stanford defense -- both won the Pac-12 South for the Bruins and nearly landed a Rose Bowl bid. Aside from running back and defensive back, the Bruins were young almost everywhere, and it showed in general inconsistency.

The story was ruined a bit by a poor ending versus Baylor, but the ending doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. If UCLA really is the team that it suggested it could be in September and November, the Bruins could do some damage in 2013.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 24 33 31 30
RUSHING 37 40 52 26
PASSING 34 32 15 35
Standard Downs 33 38 30
Passing Downs 36 27 39
Redzone 56 45 57
Q1 Rk 9 1st Down Rk 24
Q2 Rk 47 2nd Down Rk 20
Q3 Rk 83 3rd Down Rk 89
Q4 Rk 18

3. Balanced balance

With a backfield of quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Johnathan Franklin, UCLA certainly could have been excused for trying to run and run and run and run last year; but it didn't. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone utilized every weapon he had, used every inch of the field, gave his young quarterback some easy throws to make, and achieved nearly perfect balance, no matter how you define it, in 2012. UCLA was almost equally successful running (40th in Rushing S&P+) and throwing (32nd in Passing S&P+), and its run-pass splits almost exactly mirrored the national averages.

UCLA's pass ratings were almost certainly aided by the threat of Franklin in the backfield -- he had some absolutely ridiculous games in 2012 (214 yards versus Rice, 217 versus Nebraska, 164 versus Arizona State, 162 versus Arizona, 171 versus USC, 194 versus Stanford the second time) -- but now that Franklin is gone, the frequency with which UCLA passed last year could help the Bruins quite a bit. Hundley and Shaquelle Evans developed a nice rapport last year, though Hundley will have to find a new red-zone threat with the departure of Joseph Fauria. The receiving corps is awfully young after Evans, but lord knows there is potential here; there are seven former four-star recruits in the unit.

Meanwhile, it's not as if the running game is guaranteed to fall apart. Franklin was special, but Jordon James and Damien Thigpen were at least average, and redshirt freshman Paul Perkins could work into the mix. Still, there might be more talent out wide than in the backfield this time around. And Mazzone will likely attempt perfect balance again.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Brett Hundley 6'3, 227 So. **** (5.9) 318 478 3,740 66.5% 29 11 52 9.8% 6.5
Richard Brehaut


4 9 105 44.4% 0 0 0 0.0% 11.7
T.J. Millweard 6'3, 218 RSFr. *** (5.6)






Jerry Neuheisel 6'1, 191 RSFr. *** (5.6)






Asiantii Woulard 6'3, 205 Fr. **** (5.9)






4. Throw the ball, Brett

For most of 2012, Hundley looked the part of a talented dual-threat quarterback. His 6.1 highlight yards per opportunity proved his explosiveness on the ground, and his 67 percent completion rate (on mostly easy passes, yes) showed his potential for efficiency through the air.

But he lived up to the dual-threat stereotype in his inability to avoid sacks, as well. One of every 10 Hundley pass attempts ended in a sack; that sack rate is about twice as high as it should be. That UCLA still ranked 15th in Passing Success Rate+ tells us how efficient the Bruins were when Hundley actually got the ball off, but sacks are just so incredibly damaging to a drive. Throw the ball away, Brett.

(And yes, some more help in blitz pickup wouldn't be a bad thing; UCLA's passing-downs sack rate of 16.2 percent was 124th, dead last, in the country.)

Brett Hundley. Jayne Kamin-Oncea, US Presswire.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Johnathan Franklin RB 282 1,734 6.1 6.4 13 +27.5
Brett Hundley QB 6'3, 227 So. **** (5.9) 108 666 6.2 6.1 9 +10.2
Jordon James RB 5'9, 193 Jr. **** (5.9) 57 193 3.4 2.6 2 -8.5
Damien Thigpen RB 5'8, 180 Sr. **** (5.8) 50 262 5.2 4.9 2 +1.7
Melvin Emesibe RB 5'9, 191 So. NR 16 40 2.5 0.8 1 -3.2
Steven Manfro WR-F 5'9, 193 So. ** (5.4) 8 70 8.8 4.4 2 +3.8
Eric Kendricks 5 21 4.2 2.0 0 -0.6
Malcolm Jones RB 6'0, 220 Sr. **** (5.9)





Paul Perkins RB 5'10, 198 RSFr. *** (5.6)





Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Shaquelle Evans WR-Z 6'1, 211 Sr. **** (5.9) 91 60 877 65.9% 9.6 19.8% 68.1% 9.3 100.7
Joseph Fauria TE 63 45 620 71.4% 9.8 13.7% 50.8% 10.0 71.2
Jerry Johnson WR-X 58 31 428 53.4% 7.4 12.6% 60.3% 7.4 49.2
Steven Manfro WR-F 5'9, 193 So. ** (5.4) 44 28 287 63.6% 6.5 9.6% 59.1% 6.5 33.0
Johnathan Franklin RB 41 33 323 80.5% 7.9 8.9% 51.2% 7.7 37.1
Jordon James RB 5'9, 193 Jr. **** (5.9) 35 25 176 71.4% 5.0 7.6% 71.4% 5.2 20.2
Jordan Payton WR-Z 6'1, 210 So. **** (5.9) 26 18 202 69.2% 7.8 5.7% 57.7% 7.7 23.2
Devin Fuller WR-F 5'11, 194 So. **** (6.0) 22 20 145 90.9% 6.6 4.8% 45.5% 6.1 16.7
Damien Thigpen WR-F 5'8, 180 Sr. **** (5.8) 21 18 211 85.7% 10.0 4.6% 57.1% 10.1 24.2
Devin Lucien WR 6'0, 192 So. **** (5.8) 12 10 188 83.3% 15.7 2.6% 66.7% 14.9 21.6
Kenneth Walker WR-F 5'9, 175 So. *** (5.7) 10 7 39 70.0% 3.9 2.2% 50.0% 3.7 4.5
Darius Bell TE 5'11, 216 Sr. *** (5.5) 9 7 143 77.8% 15.9 2.0% 44.4% 15.3 16.4
Tyler Scott WR-X 6'2, 205 So. NR








Ian Taubler TE 6'4, 252 So. *** (5.6)








Thomas Duarte TE 6'3, 225 Fr. **** (5.8)








Eldridge Massington WR 6'3, 205 Fr. **** (5.8)








Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 106.4 2.86 3.82 43.4% 64.3% 20.7% 66.6 4.3% 16.2%
Rank 40 80 12 18 86 90 111 54 124
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Xavier Su'a-Filo LG 6'3, 304 Jr. **** (6.0) 14 career starts; 2012 1st All-Pac-12
Jeff Baca RG 45 career starts; 2012 2nd All-Pac-12
Torian White LT 6'5, 282 So. *** (5.6) 14 career starts
Jake Brendel C 6'4, 276 So. *** (5.6) 14 career starts
Simon Goines RT 6'6, 320 So. *** (5.7) 13 career starts
Alberto Cid RG 6'2, 325 Sr. ** (5.2) 8 career starts
Brett Downey RT 2 career starts
Alexandru Ceachir RG 6'5, 302 Jr. *** (5.6)
Kody Innes C 6'3, 275 Jr. **** (5.8)
Christian Morris LT 6'6, 293 Fr. **** (5.9)
Caleb Benenoch LG 6'5, 321 Fr. **** (5.8)
Poasi Moala RT 6'5, 270 Fr. **** (5.8)
Lacy Westbrook OL 6'4, 320 Fr. **** (5.8)
John Lopez OL 6'6, 315 Fr. **** (5.8)
Kenny Lacy OL 6'6, 270 Fr. **** (5.8)

5. The reinforcements arrive up front

Hundley attempted 38 passes and eight rushes per game. Mazzone and Mora put an incredible amount of responsibility on the redshirt freshman, and it paid off quite a bit.

It could have paid off even more if the line weren't both green and held together with chicken wire and duct tape. The UCLA line was perilously thin in 2012 and started three freshmen (of either the true or redshirt variety) and a sophomore.

The line was brilliant at creating opportunities for Franklin, Hundley, and company, but it suffered quite a few breakdowns as well. Not only was Hundley sacked an incredible 52 times (including once every 6.3 passing-downs pass attempts), but opponents made run stops behind the line 21 percent of the time as well. Once a runner got past the line, great things tended to happen, but line breakdowns led to quite a few passing downs (which often led to third-and-long sacks).

This year, the reinforcements arrive. They are young, of course, but six four-star freshmen will be in uniform to spell six returnees with starting experience (77 career starts). All-conference guard Xavier Su'a-Filo is great, and even though relying on true freshmen up front is a dicey proposition, the depth here is possibly better than it was last year, and it will only get better in 2014 and beyond.

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 78 47 45 50
RUSHING 68 40 30 44
PASSING 87 58 59 54
Standard Downs 66 53 80
Passing Downs 24 36 17
Redzone 98 109 69
Q1 Rk 32 1st Down Rk 43
Q2 Rk 47 2nd Down Rk 52
Q3 Rk 18 3rd Down Rk 25
Q4 Rk 74

6. UCLA toed the line with injuries and depth

Only four linemen and four linebackers logged even 15.0 tackles in 2012. The front seven of Lou Spanos' 3-4 defense came together incredibly well -- much better than should have been expected, really -- but the Bruins were a little bit lucky, too, in escaping any major injuries (the nature of luck was then made apparent by expected 2013 starting defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa's possible season-ending injury). There was some luck involved in UCLA's defensive surge, but it's difficult to argue with the product up front: 32nd in Adj. Line Yards, 12th in Adj. Sack Rate. The Bruins were fantastic on passing downs, in part because of the pressure they generated on opposing passers.

The margin for error was minimal, however. First of all, the depth showed in the per-quarter splits above: UCLA got worse as each half progressed. Beyond that, UCLA was also mediocre when it couldn't be aggressive. The Bruins were a big-play sieve on standard downs; it doesn't matter how good you are on passing downs if you can't force any.

The depth up front could be better this year if a couple of many four-star freshmen come through with solid play, but with the secondary hitting the reset button, opponents will be unafraid of passing on standard downs.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 108.3 2.97 2.65 37.6% 61.0% 17.5% 138.7 7.1% 11.2%
Rank 32 70 19 48 23 87 12 12 6
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Datone Jones DE 14 53.5 6.6% 19 6.5 0 0 2 0
Cassius Marsh DE 6'4, 268 Sr. **** (6.0) 14 40.5 5.0% 10.5 8 0 2 2 3
Owamagbe Odighizuwa DE 6'3, 265 Sr. ***** (6.1) 14 34.5 4.3% 6 3.5 0 3 0 2
Seali'I Epenesa NT 6'1, 316 Sr. *** (5.6) 14 17.5 2.2% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Donovan Carter DE 13 11.0 1.4% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Ellis McCarthy DE 6'4, 330 So. ***** (6.1) 9 9.5 1.2% 1 1 0 1 0 0
Keenan Graham DE 6'1, 246 Sr. **** (5.8) 11 7.5 0.9% 1 1 0 0 0 0
Brandon Willis DE 6'1, 268 Jr. **** (5.9) 6 3.5 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 1
Brandon Tuliaupupu NT 6'1, 302 So. *** (5.6) 5 2.0 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kylie Fitts DE 6'4, 260 Fr. **** (5.9)

Kenneth Clark DT 6'2, 275 Fr. **** (5.8)






Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Eric Kendricks ILB 6'0, 228 Jr. *** (5.6) 14 120.0 14.8% 6 2 1 4 2 3
Anthony Barr OLB 6'4, 245 Sr. **** (6.0) 14 71.5 8.8% 21.5 13.5 0 5 4 0
Jordan Zumwalt ILB 6'4, 230 Sr. **** (5.8) 13 61.5 7.6% 8 2 0 1 2 1
Damien Holmes OLB 14 44.0 5.4% 10 5.5 0 1 0 1
Ryan Hofmeister ILB 6'0, 222 Jr. *** (5.6) 13 12.5 1.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Wallace OLB 6'2, 228 So. *** (5.6) 10 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Kenny Orjioke ILB 6'4, 229 So. *** (5.6) 5 2.0 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Porter ILB 6'0, 230 RSFr. **** (5.8)

Nate Iese OLB 6'3, 241 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Jeremy Castro LB 6'2, 243 Fr. **** (5.8)
Isaac Savaiinaea ILB 6'3, 235 Fr. *** (5.6)

Deon Hollins, Jr. LB 6'2, 225 Fr. **** (5.8)

Myles Jack LB 6'2, 215 Fr. **** (5.8)






7. The ultimate "ATH" recruit

Anthony Barr missed most of his senior season in high school with an injury, but he was still rated the No. 50 player in the Class of 2010 by Rivals.com. He was the No. 5 player in the country in the Athlete position, No. 1 ATH by MaxPreps. Scout.com listed him as a linebacker, but most recruiting services had no idea what position he should play. Neither did Rick Neuheisel. In two seasons as a big receiver and short-yardage back, he had 12 catches for all of 82 yards, 15 carries for 54 yards, and two total touchdowns. He didn't warrant a mention among the 3,000 words I wrote about UCLA last summer.

But then Mora and Spanos decided to listen to Scout.com, evidently. In desperate need of warm bodies to fill out the two-deep at linebacker, they moved Barr to OLB ... and he became potentially the best 3-4 outside linebacker in the country. He sacked quarterbacks more times than Miami or Iowa did, more times than Eastern Michigan and Boston College combined. He broke up passes, he forced fumbles, he nearly broke USC's Matt Barkley in half ... he was the tone-setter for this active, aggressive front seven. And he also decided to return for his senior season.

UCLA has a couple of interesting pieces to replace up front -- namely, OLB Damien Holmes and end Datone Jones -- but with Barr anchoring the pass rush, Erick Kendricks vacuuming up every tackle, and a wealth of four- and five-star talent ready to crack the rotation on the line, it's hard to fear much of a dropoff here ... at least, as long as the injury bug stays away.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Tevin McDonald FS 13 68.0 8.4% 0 0 1 9 1 2
Andrew Abbott SS 14 56.0 6.9% 3 0 4 3 0 0
Aaron Hester CB 14 37.5 4.6% 2 0 1 7 1 1
Sheldon Price CB 13 33.5 4.1% 0.5 0 4 5 0 0
Randall Goforth CB 5'10, 187 So. *** (5.7) 14 33.0 4.1% 1 0 1 3 0 1
Dietrich Riley (2011) SS 6'0, 200 Jr. **** (5.9) 8 29.5 3.8% 2 0 0 3 1 1
Dalton Hilliard SS 13 28.5 3.5% 5.5 1 1 2 2 0
Stan McKay FS 6'0, 198 Sr. *** (5.6) 14 27.5 3.4% 3 3 2 3 1 0
Fabian Moreau CB 6'0, 182 So. *** (5.5) 11 4.0 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 1
Anthony Jefferson SS 6'1, 184 Jr. **** (5.8) 8 4.0 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Marcus Rios CB 5'11, 185 So. **** (5.8) 9 2.5 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Sermons FS 5'11, 195 Sr. **** (5.8) 9 2.0 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ishmael Adams CB 5'8, 185 RSFr. **** (5.8) 3 0.5 0.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dylan Price FS 5'10, 195 So. NR

Priest Willis CB 6'2, 185 Fr. **** (6.0)

Tahaan Goodman SS 6'2, 185 Fr. **** (6.0)

8. A new secondary

There is, however, ample reason to fear the defensive backfield. The secondary was easily the weakness of the 2012 defense, and that was with senior corners Aaron Hester and Sheldon Price, senior safety Andrew Abbott, and recently dismissed ball-hawk Tevin McDonald. In all, five of last year's top six DBs are gone.

When a unit stinks, a little bit of new blood is sometimes a good thing, and lord knows there are some four-star youngsters who could turn out alright. But there is no immediate reason to think that last year's weakness will be any different in 2013. If opponents can still pass at will on standard downs, and if opponents can once again avoid passing downs, UCLA's defense will be on its heels even more frequently than it was last year.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Jeff Locke 77 43.3 7 36 34 90.9%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Jeff Locke 89 64.2 68 76.4%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Ka'imi Fairbairn 5'11, 181 So. 56-59 14-16 87.5% 2-6 33.3%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Damien Thigpen KR 5'8, 180 Sr. 14 26.9 0
Devin Fuller KR 5'11, 194 So. 9 18.6 0
Steven Manfro KR 5'9, 193 So. 8 22.0 0
Steven Manfro PR 5'9, 193 So. 15 8.8 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 73
Net Punting 14
Net Kickoffs 2
Touchback Pct 1
Field Goal Pct 60
Kick Returns Avg 55
Punt Returns Avg 55

9. The ultimate field-position weapon is gone

Despite sack issues on offense, and despite standard downs softness on defense, UCLA ranked 15th in Field Position Advantage last season, and it isn't hard to see why: Jeff Locke was just awesome. Locke boomed unreturnable 44-yard punts and sent three of every four kickoffs into the end zone, repeatedly pinning opponents deep and forcing them to work the full distance of the field. Without him, UCLA could lose a few yards per possession.

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug Nevada 74
14-Sep at Nebraska 20
21-Sep New Mexico State 123
3-Oct at Utah 52
12-Oct California 68
19-Oct at Stanford 5
26-Oct at Oregon 2
2-Nov Colorado 115
9-Nov at Arizona 30
15-Nov Washington 45
23-Nov Arizona State 34
30-Nov at USC 17
Five-Year F/+ Rk 66
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 10
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* +7 / +6.0
TO Luck/Game 0.4
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 12 (7, 5)
Yds/Pt Margin** -1.5

10. What a road schedule

UCLA gets Nevada, New Mexico State, California, Colorado, Washington, and Arizona State at home. That is about as winnable a home schedule as you could ever hope to have. But to make the Pac-12 title game for a third straight year, the Bruins are going to have to steal some road wins as well. Beating Utah is reasonably likely, but ... who else are they going to beat? They get both Stanford and Oregon on the road in back-to-back weeks (yuck) and have to face revenge attempts at both Arizona and USC.

In Brett Hundley, Anthony Barr, end Cassius Marsh, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Shaq Evans, and others, UCLA quite possibly has more star power than USC this year. But the tendency to regress after a surge, the rebuilt and terrifying secondary, potential issues at running back, and the loaded road slate could hold them back.

Jim Mora, Jr., engineered a hell of a turnaround, and he is putting the pieces in place for a long stay in the Top 25, but matching last year's nine wins might be as good as one can expect from the Bruins in Mora's second year. Still, after UCLA's recent history, that's pretty impressive.

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