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

The Times' college football writer answers questions from readers.

November 01, 2013|Chris Dufresne

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.

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