T.J. Simers

Bruins' flat showing in Holiday Bowl takes fizz out of UCLA's season

The Bruins' weak performance in a 49-26 loss to Baylor casts Coach Jim Mora's debut season in a much less flattering light.

SAN DIEGO — There have been rumors down here that the Chargers might be interested in UCLA's Jim Mora as a replacement for Coach Norv Turner.

If the Holiday Bowl was an audition, Mora could not have done more to prove himself the ideal choice to be the next Chargers' head coach.

Like the Chargers do so often, the Bruins played flat and let their fans down, losing 49-26.

TIMELINE: College football 2012-13 bowl schedule

And in doing so, Mora also found a way to further irritate the faithful with the kind of play-calling that often leaves Turner looking so befuddled on the sideline.

Mora called for a field goal, his team down 35-7 and parked at the Baylor 13-yard line shortly before the half. It's the sort of thing an NFL coach would do, and to heck with disgruntled fans.

But it's nothing, as a tough-talking Mora has preached since arriving at UCLA, the Bruins supposedly not about to be held back by anyone.

So why wimp out now?

How do you not let it all ride in a bowl game, against an opponent that has been treated like a welcome mat while standing before its own end zone?

This was a Baylor team ranked 119th on defense, and they only rank 120 teams. It's a Baylor team so dreadful on defense it's worse than USC. That's how bad it is.

And yet Baylor manhandled the Bruins as if that was Philip Rivers playing quarterback and Ryan Mathews running at Qualcomm Stadium.

This was the UCLA of old, and yet just a few days ago a Los Angeles Daily News columnist was writing under the headline: "Reward Jim Mora Immediately for UCLA's Special Season."

The Daily News columnist was worried the Goofs in San Diego were going to steal Mora, but how special can a season be if it ends with three-straight whiffs?

After three straight defeats is UCLA on the rise, as some suggest, or have they been exposed as frauds?

Here we have Mora being canonized after 13 games, but anyone dealing in reality, which leaves out Bruins' fans, knows their schedule was good for at least nine wins.

OK, maybe eight if Rick Neuheisel was coaching.

UCLA played six outright crummy teams: Rice, Houston, Utah, California, Colorado and Washington State.

Mora's troops went 5-1 against teams with a combined record of 23-49.

They went 4-4 against everyone else.

UCLA did not play the best team in the Pac-12Oregon.