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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Where UCLA Bruins Go From Here Will Determine Rick Neuheisel’s Future

Much like going to Austin, when UCLA was set to play at Eugene for a huge road game this year, I was expecting a bad loss. Because of the shocking win at Texas, I was holding out a small piece of hope somewhere inside me that UCLA could pull off another stunner. What we ended up seeing was a 60-13 loss in which the school couldn’t have possibly been more embarrassed.

Oregon went 90 yards on eight plays for a touchdown in their opening drive and went the rest of the game mowing through UCLA with little resistance. The Ducks rolled up 582 yards of offense and were so dominant it felt like they could have named the score against the Bruins. While UCLA was hoping to get first downs and maybe get into field goal range, it was a disappointment if Oregon’s drives didn’t end in touchdowns (only 3 of 11 didn’t). UCLA’s defense was an oxymoron; we didn’t even see the Ducks’ punter until the 4th quarter.

I know I speak for all Bruins fans when I say that I’m sick of these embarrassing losses. 35-0 to Stanford, 35-7 to Cal, and now 60-13 against Oregon, where the touchdown wasn’t scored until two minutes were left in the game. On no possible level is this acceptable. If we’re good enough to beat Houston and Texas, we should be good enough to compete with the rest of the teams in our conference.

I’ve heard a lot of positives about the UCLA program under Rick Neuheisel — the recruiting has been fantastic, he beat Texas on the road, the cupboard was beyond bare when he got there — but that’s enough. This team needs to respond to the drubbing on Thursday night with wins the rest of the way. The Bruins are 14-18 under Rick and suffering through the kind of hideous losses we wanted to avoid when we fired Karl Dorrell. As Bruins Nation pointed out, there have been six losses of 25 points or more under Neuheisel.

Here’s the thing: most Bruins fans figured we would lose big at Oregon. What the team does in the next five games — all against conference opponents with three at home — will determine how much forgiveness the coaching staff will be granted. I don’t see the team going any better than 1-4 over the next five. If they finish 4-8 this year (which would be the second 4-8 finish in three years under Rick), then I don’t see how the coaching staff will be given another season. I wasn’t excited about the hiring to start and nothing has swayed me since. It really is a shame — it’s been too long since UCLA was consistently good in football. We need to get back to that point.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images



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