When considering UCLA's win-loss record, look at who it's played

Q: Someone has to call it. Bruins 5-6 last 11 games. Not that good. No real progress.

Brian Theriot

A: An interesting point except UCLA also hasn't exactly been playing Louisville's schedule.

Let's examine UCLA losses: Once to Oregon, currently No. 2 in the BCS; three times to Stanford, currently No. 5; and once to Baylor, currently No. 6. Those schools are a combined 22-1 this year.

Who you play really does matter in college football; that's why there is so much arguing over strength of schedule.

UCLA might be undefeated and No. 4 if the Bruins had played Ohio State's gantlet of Buffalo, San Diego State, Cal, Florida A&M;, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State.

And Ohio State, instead of riding a 20-game win streak, might be 5-6 in its last 11 games had the Buckeyes played UCLA's schedule.

I think there has been real progress in the UCLA, just not enough to match the elite teams in the conference, or the country. The talent level is rising. It's been a decade at least since UCLA has had players the caliber of Brett Hundley, Anthony Barr and Myles Jack.

The Bruins are playing with an attitude under Jim Mora. They are not getting pushed around and, in fact, are standing up to the better teams.

My rule of thumb is a coach needs to start making things happen by his third year.

Mora, in my opinion, is ahead of schedule.

Q: I think @DufresneLATimes ate some bad candy because his judgment on the Pac-12 South race is severely impaired!

Twitter: @EEstarts

A: Or maybe you're a UCLA fan who ate too many sour tarts?

Yes, I picked Arizona State to win the Pac-12 South division, and right now the Sun Devils are 4-1 in the division. That's first place. They crushed Washington State on Thursday and are playing the best football right now in the Pac-12 South.

Arizona State plays at UCLA on Nov. 23.

If the game were played today, I'd probably pick ASU.

In candy-bar parlance, I can almost hear your "Snickers."

Q: Is 14-14 really a lead?

Twitter: @justme277

A: I realize most of you think "a long time ago" dates to the first Harry Potter movie, but I do expect a minimal level of historical sporting context.

When I tweeted during the UCLA game that the Bruins were "leading" Oregon 7-7, and then 14-14 at the half, it wasn't because I couldn't read the scoreboard.

I was at the game, sitting in the Autzen Stadium press box. The Twitter Troop police, though, thought they caught me in a big "aha!" moment.

A guy with the handle "CallMeSenorFresh" tweeted "takes the lead? Are you high?"

(He may have me confused with the former coach, Carl Pelini, at Florida Atlantic).

Justin Hopkins got me with "Metric Scoring System?" and then probably went back to playing "Angry Birds" in his pajamas.

A Nebraska fan, @NathanielHusker, said my tweet: "Makes no sense."

What makes no sense, Nate, is Nebraska losing to Minnesota.

I was convinced my followers had never read anything more important than the back of a cereal box until my faith was restored by @SteveRRamirez.

He tweeted: "Well, there is the famous headline: Harvard beats Yale, 29-29…I think his tweet is the same meaning."

Bless you, Steve Ramirez.

That reference was to the famous 1968 Ivy League game in which Harvard rallied back to "beat" Yale. Harvard was trailing 29-13 with two minutes left but somehow tied the game.

The Harvard newspaper, the Crimson, considered it a victory with what has become one of the most famous headlines in sports: "Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29."

Q: UCLA's offensive line played better than I expected. But I noticed that UCLA's wide receivers were unable to separate from Oregon's defensive backs. Are the Ducks' defensive backs that good? Or is it more that UCLA passing schemes aren't effective? Or both?

Bill Sheehan

A: It was a bad combination. UCLA started three true freshmen on the offensive line and that meant having to simplify the offense for quarterback Brett Hundley.

When Hundley did pass, yes, he was throwing into the teeth of one of the nation's best defensive units.

Phil Steele rated Oregon's secondary No.1 in his preseason magazine, although I'd say Stanford and Florida State are equally as good. Oregon is led by junior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, whose name is as feared by announcers as it is by Pac-12 receivers.

Q: If Stanford loses to Oregon and then wins the rest of its games and Oregon wins out and is picked to play in the BCS … is there any way Stanford can be in the Rose Bowl?

Gary Packer

A: Yes. The Rose Bowl would replace the Ducks with a team from the Pac-12 so long as that team finishes top 14 in the final BCS standings.

The Rose Bowl's first priority is to keep the game a traditional Pac-12/Big Ten pairing. That was clear in 2007 when Pasadena passed over better teams to take Illinois (9-3) to play USC. Illinois was ranked No. 13 in the BCS.

If Oregon is lost, the replacement team would probably be Stanford if the Cardinal is 10-2 and the highest-ranked available Pac-12 team. If no other Pac-12 is available, the Rose Bowl will pick an at-large team to replace Oregon.

Q: Oregon vs. Ohio State in Rose Bowl would be very grand.


A: Oregon and Ohio State would not be happy if both are undefeated, but this is the Rose Bowl's dream scenario. Granddaddy might host the top four teams in a span of six days.

It happens only if the top four teams win out and Florida State passes Oregon for No. 2 in the BCS. (Note: Most experts think Oregon would be No. 2 in that scenario.)

In our dream scenario, though, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 3 Oregon could play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 followed by No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida State in the same stadium Jan. 6.

The Rose Bowl, in effect, would be hosting two national semifinal games a year before the four-team playoff begins. The problem this year is the winners could not meet.

The Rose Bowl will host one of two semifinal games next year, when the playoff replaces the BCS, with the winner going to the title game at AT&T; Stadium in Texas.

There are some interesting scenarios out there.

Q: Who makes less sense, Mark May or Lou Holtz?

Steve Kelly

A: I'm guessing it might be Lou Holtz, although I can never understand a word he's saying.

I swear I heard Lou say last year that Temple was so bad they couldn't beat Synagogue, but I must have been dreaming.

Holtz is always crystal clear, though, when he refers to USC as "Southern Cal" because he knows the Trojans hate that. USC would rather be called "the Flying Kiffins."


He looks like smart things should come out of his mouth. Maybe they do on commercial breaks.

Q: ESPN referred to Nebraska as a "traditional conference power." How long does it take to make tradition these days?

Robert Parry

A: Tradition in the Big Ten is like Cup-a-Soup. Just add water and set the microwave for two minutes and you get instant Nebraska.

As hot as Bo Pelini runs after a loss, though, you should open the lid and let the contents cool down before serving.

Nebraska was a "traditional" conference power in the Big 12, but this is only the Cornhuskers' third season in the Big Ten. Nebraska is 24-10 with no league titles and a loss at Minnesota. The Cornhuskers gave up 70 points to Wisconsin in last year's Big Ten title game and 63 to Ohio State during the regular season.

Jim Nantz of CBS calls Nebraska in the Big Ten "a tradition unlike any other."


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