UCLA Football: Will Bruins Make a Bowl Game in 2011?

Alex ShoemakerAnalyst IIOctober 23, 2011

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 20:  Runningback Johnathan Franklin #23 of the UCLA Bruins rushes the football against the Arizona Wildcats during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on October 20, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It has been a long season for the UCLA Bruins. After a close 38-34 defeat to the still undefeated Houston Cougars, the Bruins followed that with a home win over San Jose State and a loss to Texas.

The Bruins then beat the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis followed by a loss to No. 6 Stanford. UCLA’s last two games are a win against Washington State followed by a loss to Arizona.

UCLA sits at 3-4 (2-2) and finds itself third in the Pac-12 South division. Five more games remain (Cal, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado, USC) and the Bruins will need at least three wins to be bowl eligible.

There’s little doubt that head coach Rich Neuheisel will need a bowl game to reserve a chance to save his job.

Certain Wins: Colorado

The Bruins take on the Colorado Buffaloes Week 11 in what appears to be the only "certain" win remaining on their schedule. Colorado is easily the worst team in the Pac-12 conference, and the Bruins should have no trouble taking care of business at home.

Certain Losses: Arizona State, USC

In two weeks, the Bruins will take on the Arizona State Sun Devils, who are ranked No. 21 in the BCS polls this week. Then they follow up with  Los Angeles rival USC on the road to conclude the regular season. I see little chance of the Bruins being able to put points against a solid Sun Devils defense when UCLA could only manage 12 points (five of which were earned in the last six minutes) against a terrible Arizona Wildcats defense.

And with rival USC, the 6-1 Trojans have way too much firepower on offense. Arizona showed just how bad the Bruins run defense is, so I see the stable of Trojan running backs pounding the ball for a lot of yards and points.

Tossups: California, Utah

This is where it gets interesting. With the “certain" wins and losses, the Bruins’ record would sit at 4-6 needing wins against both teams to become bowl eligible.

The Bruins play the Cal Golden Bears in their next game, a must win for their bowl dreams and to save coach Neuheisel’s job. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Bruins winning this game.

The Bears have too much speed on offense, mainly in receivers Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones, and the defense is good enough to get the job done. However, if the Bruins are able to beat the Cal Bears or pull a major upset over the Sun Devils or Trojans, the next key game on the schedule is Nov. 12 at Utah.

With the loss of quarterback Jordan Wynn and all the issues with the Utes team, the Bruins should be able to take care of business even if it is on the road.

Result: 5-7

If you’ve lost track, the Bruins are on track to finish with a record of 5-7 (4-5) and fall just short of a bowl game. With that said, expect Neuheisel to be fired sometime this season with it likely coming after a loss to Cal next week.

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