In the crosshairs: UCLA Bruins

Overall record: 4-7
Conference record: 2-6
National rank: none
Last Week: Lost to ASU 55-34

UCLA has an offense ranked 101st nationally, yet Norm Chow has a new 2-year contract extension.  The Bruins enter the final game of the season with a woeful mark of 4-7 overall, with only two wins in conference, yet Rick Neuheisel is given a vote of confidence by school administrators.

Extensions and pats on the back mean little in the world of sports, and should never translate to job security. Neuheisel entered three years ago with promise of change.  Those changes occurred, but have been for the worse. Although he’s notched victories against programs like Tennessee and Texas, the Bruins have won no more than three Pac 10 games in each season under his direction.

His predecessor, Karl Dorrell, who led the Bruins to a 10-win season, four bowl appearances, and never finished below .500 in conference,  was terminated for his efforts.  If this is the measure of failure, Neuheisel may be clinging to the last straw.

“For those of us who like challenges, this is a great one,” Neuheisel said. “And I’m as committed as I’ve ever been and got more energy and resolve than I’ve ever had and I’m anxious to get going. And those who will come along for the ride will be rewarded because it’s going to be a great, great finish.”

UCLA by the Numbers

Category Nat. Rank Conf. rank average
Total offense 101 10 312.91
Rush offense 33 4 133.91
Pass offense 116 10 133.00
Pass efficiency 119 10 93.77
Scoring offense 103 9 20.73
Total defense 93 9 415.18
Rush defense 103 8 199.55
Pass defense 60 60 215.64
Pass efficiency defense 88 7 136.90
Scoring defense 89 8 30.55

Analysis: The little strength in the Bruin offense comes in the running game, where the pistol is fired repeatedly, and passing is placed on the backburner. In its victory over Texas, UCLA attempted just 8 passes for a total of 27 yards.  But success on Saturday may only be achieved with a different game plan, instead of one that favors the strength of USC.

The Trojans are 49th in the nation defending the run.  That number isn’t great by USC standards of old, but is a breath of fresh air in comparison to the 112th ranking of the pass defense.  If the Bruins plan is to run their cross-town rivals out of Pasadena, then it’s one that will result in failure, as it has seven previous times this year.  A struggling secondary invites even the worst passers to take chances, and that should be no different in the Rose Bowl this week.

By all indications, Matt Barkley is expected to be USC’s starting quarterback, but mobility will be restricted by the lingering effects of the high ankle sprain. The Trojan offense fizzled with Mitch Mustain under center in the loss to Notre Dame last week, but is a unit more confident with the familiar face barking plays.   But more important than the return of Barkley will be the play of the offensive line and tailbacks against one of the nation’s most porous run defenses.

All Time Series: Trojans lead 42-28-7
Streak: Trojans won 3
Last Meeting: 2009 | USC 28, UCLA 7 (L.A. Coliseum)
Line: UCLA +6.5

Fun Facts

  • UCLA offenses have scored just 7 points in each of the last 3 games against USC, and less than 20 points in each of the last 5.
  • Even with a signature win over Texas, the 4-7 Bruins have zero victories over teams with winning records.
  • USC is 8-2 in the Rose Bowl since 2000.
  • In his three seasons coordinating at UCLA, Norm Chow offenses have ranked 111th, 81st, and 101st nationally.

~ by Anthony on December 4, 2010.

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