UCLA Football: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for Bruins' Final 5 Games
The No. 17 UCLA Bruins control its own fate in the Pac-12 South Division. The Bruins are currently in a three-way tie for second place, a game behind Arizona State.
Essentially UCLA can repeat as three-time Pac-12 South Division champions with a perfect end to the season. Of the five remaining opponents, four (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, USC) play in the South Division.
With the toughest part of the Bruins' schedule out of the way, it's feasible to believe that UCLA is the favorite to advance to the Pac-12 Title Game. However, injuries and faulty quarterback play could derail that dream quickly.
The bigger picture worst-case scenario would have UCLA taking a step back in its quest to become a prominent program under Jim Mora.
Mora's impact on the team has been undeniable. No longer are the Bruins considered a soft, doughy group with minimal resolve. This bunch is hard-nosed and focused, obviously taking after its leader.
The past two years has seen UCLA improve from both an athletic and depth standpoint. The startling amount of youth gives credence to the notion that the Bruins are still a maturing team.
As for the rest of the 2013 season, the absolute worst-case scenario would obviously include going winless. In order for that to happen, a mass amount of injuries would need to occur.
Worst-case scenario could involve a 6-6 or 7-5 season. With a mediocre record, the momentum gained from a season ago would essentially disappear.
Will UCLA win the Pac-12 South?
Recruiting could also take a substantial hit with an average record. UCLA is recruiting a lot of national names. Those elite recruits probably won't take a chance coming out to the West Coast to play for a team that finishes with an average record.
In terms of the remaining games on the schedule, a loss to USC would be bad. This proud program will not be struggling for too much longer. The rich and illustrious history of the program will attract a top coach. Once scholarship sanctions end, the depth on the squad will be built up.
This is the time for UCLA to strike. A convincing win on the road against the crosstown rival (who's very depleted) will go a long ways in regards to recruiting. It'll also help to validate the notion that UCLA is the top program in the city of Los Angeles currently.
An injury to quarterback Brett Hundley would be devastating. Although he hasn't performed incredibly well, UCLA has no credible backup to speak of behind Hundley. The next option would be Jerry Neuheisel, followed by walk-on Mike Fafaul.
The most talented option behind UCLA's starting signal-caller is true freshman Asiantii Woulard. Woulard will not see time due to the fact that he's redshirting. This is not meant to disrespect Neuheisel or Fafaul at all, but the Bruins would be in an immensely tough spot if either saw more than mop-up duty on the field.
Hundley's play is also an issue. If he continues to have problems with confidence and consistency, the team's prospects for the season could take a nose dive.
If anything, the overall development of this young and inexperienced team cannot be stemmed by any stretch. A poor end to the season could in some ways compromise the overall confidence of the bunch.
Best-case scenario obviously has UCLA advancing to the Pac-12 Championship Game and finishing as Pac-12 South Division Champions for the third straight year.
UCLA's remaining schedule isn't overly difficult. Perhaps the two most difficult games, Washington and Arizona State, will be played at the Rose Bowl. The contest against the Sun Devils could determine who represents the South Division in the Title Game.
This upcoming weekend pits UCLA against lowly Colorado at the Rose Bowl. In many ways it's the perfect matchup for the Bruins, who need some confidence after losing in back-to-back weeks against Stanford and Oregon.
The two road games against Arizona and USC will be interesting. UCLA historically has a very difficult time playing in Tucson. The Bruins have won at Arizona since 2003. However, Arizona didn't have a quarterback as poor as B.J. Denker.
In a rivalry game, anything can happen. Although USC is not the USC of old, it still has some talented players. One can be assured that the atmosphere will be electric. If the Trojans can play the role of the spoiler in this game, one can bet the team will be amped to knock off the Bruins.
From an injury standpoint, the Bruins can ill-afford any more to its offensive line. Both starting tackles are currently out, and as a result UCLA is starting three true freshmen. An ailment to Anthony Barr or Myles Jack is certainly not desired, either.
In this scenario, UCLA will run the table and most likely face Oregon for a second time in Eugene for the Pac-12 Championship.
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