CBR’s ‘Way Too Early’ 2014 Top 10
No. 4 UCLA Bruins
Remember those newspaper ads when Rick Neuheisel took over the UCLA program? It looks like they were a bit premature, as the Bruins didn’t officially stop the football monopoly in Los Angeles until Jim Mora arrived.
Mora has been a fresh air for the Bruins and has won 19 games in two seasons and finished 16th in the two major polls. UCLA has done well recruiting since Mora arrived. Now it will be interesting to see if the Bruins can take it to the next level, especially since USC has another new coach.
The Good: When QB Brett Hundley announced he was returning for another season, the Bruins immediately become the favorite to win the Pac-12 South and give Stanford and Oregon a run for the overall title.
There’s also this dual-threat guy Myles Jack. He can deliver devastating blows as a linebacker and break off huge runs as a tailback. Jack’s versatility makes him the most exciting player in college football.
The Bad: UCLA has a tough non-conference opponent in Texas early in the season There’s also the reality that the Pac-12 South is getting stronger as Arizona State was the top team in 2013, USC should be better with Steve Sarkisian coming over from Washington and Arizona is loading up on young talent with Rich Rodriguez.
The Uncertain: Key losses like linebackers Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt, as well as the early departure of OT Xavier Su’a-Filo have the potential to create some huge holes on the roster.
Verdict: UCLA return at least seven starters on both sides of the ball, so the Bruins have a great opportunity to take the next step and become a serious Rose Bowl contender or even a legitimate playoff team. UCLA also has the depth necessary to be a Top-5 team in 2014.
Be sure to check out the rest of CBR’s “Way Too Early” Top 10: