Same old, same rolled.
The Ghost of
Stop me if you've … wait, of course you've heard this before, who hasn't heard this before?
A UCLA football team poised on the cusp of greatness has fallen awkwardly backward into the abyss of disillusionment. A UCLA football team with its fingers on the next level has been leveled.
This time it was five-loss
When the game began, eighth-ranked UCLA was one seemingly simple victory from advancing to next week's
"It's happened again!" shouted one.
If the Bruins had advanced to next weekend's title game, a victory there over second-ranked
"Really shocking,'' he said.
Shocking? Really? Even though the outmanned Cardinal team harassed Hundley, hit everyone, and overcame the absence of their best offensive player Ty Montgomery to pound the Bruins on four touchdown drives of at least 75 yards each, anyone with a sense of UCLA history would have to admit it was not really shocking.
This was the failure to tackle
This was the inability to stop Edgerrin James in 1998. This was Karl Dorrell's undefeated Bruins losing by 38 points to
"Get all over Mora!'' shouted another fan fleeing through the tunnel.
After three consecutive wins over USC, Mora's Bruins may own this town, but, just like their predecessors, they have yet to possess the currency to purchase a truly big national moment. They will now end their season with yet another moment in the shadows of a bowl game in San Antonio or San Francisco or, you know, somewhere, wherever.
"We wanted the Oregons and Stanfords, that was our motto, we figured this was the year," said the Bruins' Myles Jack. "I guess not."
With the Bruins' dominating victory over the
"It's brutal."' said Jeff Ulbrich, defensive coordinator. "We're all crushed in a lot of ways."
They began the game crushing, holding Stanford motionless on a three-play drive and then responding with a 64-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 15-yard pass from Hundley to Thomas Duarte. No USC hangover there. This wasn't going to be a game, it was going to be a Pac-12 title warmup party.
"But from then on,'' said Jack, "it was just kind of mellow."
Mellow is a word that has haunted this program for years. Mellow is one of the poisons that have felled so many past accomplished UCLA teams. But, um, wasn't Mora supposed to have gotten rid of the mellow?
We're an extremely young football team,'' Mora said, noting there were but six scholarship seniors honored on Friday's Senior Day. "We're very young, still developing, we will get there. We are just not there yet physically. [Stanford] has been doing what they've been doing longer than we've been doing what we've been doing. ... These aren't excuses, these are just facts."
Bruins fans are growing tired of hearing about youth and growth and the inability to smash mouths like Stanford. Bruins fans were booing Friday when Stanford countered UCLA's opening touchdown with their four consecutive long drives led by quarterback Kevin Hogan, who played his best game of the season in completing his first dozen passes. The Bruins defense was steamrolled, their offense was befuddled, and their coaching staff called a couple of panic timeouts and even had Jerry Neuheisel throw up an eventually intercepted duck on a fake field goal attempt. The same Stanford showed up on every play, while UCLA's intensity and ingenuity varied from moment to moment, from harsh to, well, mellow.
"We can't go up and down like a roller coaster," said Jack.
An important part of that ride ended midway through the fourth quarter, when Hundley hit his right hand on a helmet, causing a finger to swell and leading to his removal from the game. Considering he is turning pro next year — he participated in Senior Day activities and even left the Rose Bowl with his locker placard stuck in his backpack — it was a sad way for a great player to end his UCLA home career.
But he's not the first Bruin to exit like this, and, unless this program can really change as Mora has promised, he won't be the last.
"Moments like this, we have to be able to be consistent and finish what we start,'' said Hundley.
Finish what they start. A simple concept. An endless wait.