UCLA Football: 4 Best Moments of 2013
The UCLA Bruins (10-3) had plenty of quality moments in 2013.
For one, the victory over Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl gave UCLA its first 10-win season in nearly a decade. Fans of the Bruins were able to watch multiple true freshmen make their proverbial marks on the season. One in particular has the look of a future NFL star.
Whether it was important victories or emotional circumstances, 2013 was a year to remember for the Bruins.
The four most prominent moments from the 2013 season are highlighted in this piece. While all important, these remembrances rank from least memorable to most impactful.
Take a look and enjoy.
4. The Win over Virginia Tech
The impressive 42-12 victory over a respectable program in Virginia Tech gave UCLA its first 10-win season since 2005.
Brett Hundley went 16-of-27 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for an eye-popping 161 yards and had two more touchdowns on the ground.
This win in many respects has validated the work Jim Mora and his staff have done. This program has won 19 games in the last two seasons. Depth is being built through recruiting, and the culture change imposed by Mora has fully taken effect in Westwood.
3. The Introduction of Myles Jack
Myles Jack's foray into the national spotlight came on a Saturday night game in Tucson against the Arizona Wildcats.
It marked the first time this season that the linebacker played as a tailback. Jack finished the game with six carries for 120 yards. His explosive touchdown run (shown above) effectively won the game for the Bruins.
In the following weeks, Jack rushed for four touchdowns in a game versus Washington. He also had touchdown runs against Arizona State and Southern Cal.
Jack is an astounding prospect. He was named both the Pac-12 Freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
Linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich said Jack "is like nothing I have ever seen before. He's a better athlete than Patrick Willis after playing next to Pat for three to four years. Jack is freakishly athletic and has an enormous ceiling."
His development as a player will be very fascinating to watch in the upcoming years.
2. The Dominating Victory over Southern Cal
UCLA's 35-14 victory over the Southern Cal Trojans in the Coliseum was massive for the Bruins.
It was UCLA's first victory on the road against the Trojans since 1997. The Bruins truly were superior in all facets of the game. There wasn't one moment in the game that stood out, but rather an amalgam of events.
Cassius Marsh sacked quarterback Cody Kessler on consecutive plays. Anthony Barr came off of the edge to strip Kessler of the football, causing a fumble. Hundley's touchdown run in the third quarter effectively put the game out of reach for the Trojans.
Although neither team played in the Pac-12 Championship Game, the win by UCLA is symbolic of the fact that Mora has the team moving in the right direction. UCLA has now beaten the Trojans in two straight seasons. From a momentum standpoint, there's no question that it currently resides in Westwood.
Success is often cyclical. USC should get back to national prominence once the scholarship restrictions are lifted. It's too good of a program to not sustain some sort of success.
For right now, however, UCLA is the hot program in the city of Los Angeles. As Hundley exclaimed after the game, "UCLA runs L.A. now."
Mora echoed the same sentiment, and he even added a recruiting pitch toward the end of his press conference:
When you win two in a row in this town, things start to change. That's going to help us in recruiting. If I'm a high school player, I want to play at UCLA right now.
1. Nick Pasquale Tribute in Nebraska
When walk-on wide receiver Nick Pasquale tragically passed away, it shook up the Bruins. His death came shortly before the team was slated to face Nebraska in a significant non-conference game.
The University of Nebraska, its fanbase and Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini exuded copious amounts of class with various gestures in honor of the deceased Bruin. Decals with Pasquale's No. 36 were prominently shown on the backs of Nebraska's helmets.
Before the game started, the Nebraska student section released thousands of blue and gold balloons into the air. There were also multiple posters detailed with condolences for Pasquale and the Bruins.
An understandably rattled bunch started off the contest slow. The Cornhuskers built a 21-3 lead heading into the second quarter. It was apparent that the Bruins as a whole were emotionally spent.
From that point on, the Bruins scored 38 unanswered points en route to a 41-21 victory. The second half was easily the best bit of football UCLA played all season. This picture of Hundley truly epitomizes the love and respect that the team had for their fallen teammate.
The comeback win, in such impressive fashion on the road against a prestigious opponent, is the greatest tribute the Bruins could have given to Pasquale and his family.