Wednesday, November 30, 2022
HomeSportsWith UCLA's CFP hopes gone, much less fascinating choices await

With UCLA’s CFP hopes gone, much less fascinating choices await

On a wonky night time for UCLA, its protection giving out yardage like Rose Bowl flea market fliers and its offense a beat off its typical rhythm, one factor remained fixed.

Coach Chip Kelly repeated his chorus about everybody selecting their heads up in December to see whether or not their accomplishments over the course of the season had been adequate.

Thanks to what occurred on a frigid night time on the Rose Bowl that chilled the Bruins to their soccer core, it may not be.

Before Saturday, UCLA was on monitor for a New Year’s Six bowl recreation. Just a few extra wins and it might have ended that epic Rose Bowl recreation drought that goes again to 1999 or been chosen for the Cotton Bowl as a gratifying comfort prize. Even the College Football Playoff remained a dreamy however not out-of-the-question risk.

Now, after a horrid 34-28 loss to Arizona, the Bruins are on tempo for just a few different vacation locations. San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl? El Paso for the Sun Bowl? San Diego for the Holiday Bowl, ought to bowl organizers be in a forgiving temper after the Bruins’ last-minute pullout a yr in the past?

All these fallback choices stay in play for a staff whose late-night stumbles dropped it right into a tie with Washington for fourth place within the Pac-12 standings.

First issues first: Forget concerning the CFP. No. 12 UCLA (8-2 total, 5-2 Pac-12) will fall to date when the brand new rankings come out Tuesday that even a loud “Help!” echo received’t attain these within the prime 4.

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Winning the convention for the primary time since 1998? At this level, it’d really feel like going 99 yards in three performs. The Bruins are 1½ video games behind the Trojans and one recreation behind Oregon and Utah. The Ducks and Utes taking part in one another subsequent weekend in Eugene helps in that it’ll go away a type of groups with a second convention loss, however the tiebreaker permutations are so muddled that they’re not value stepping into for an additional week.

Even with a victory over No. 8 USC on Saturday on the Rose Bowl, UCLA may want some tiebreaker assist to succeed in the Pac-12 championship recreation Dec. 2 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, however it will be an enormous step towards the Strip. Besides the instant catharsis of a second consecutive overcome the Trojans, it will give the Bruins head-to-head wins towards USC, Utah and Washington that might most likely come in useful as a part of tiebreaker eventualities.

But who’s kidding whom if UCLA’s protection can’t tighten significantly given its showings the previous few weeks. What probability do the Bruins have of stopping USC quarterback Caleb Williams if they will’t maintain Arizona’s Jayden de Laura — a plucky participant, to make sure, however one main what was then a 3-6 staff — from doing no matter he wished on the Rose Bowl?

De Laura’s capability to scramble and maintain performs alive was the first cause the Bruins trudged off their dwelling subject losers for the primary time since falling to Oregon on the Rose Bowl on Oct. 23, 2021.

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Afterward, Kelly appeared in denial concerning the points that plague his protection, crediting De Laura as an alternative of criticizing his overmatched linemen, linebackers and defensive backs.

“Our guys played with great effort,” Kelly mentioned, including of De Laura, “but he extended plays like nobody we played against this year and I can’t recall since we’ve been here a kid that’s run around like that, you know, and I think all those big plays he made when he was running around were the difference in the football game.”

(As a facet be aware, Kelly appeared to have forgotten concerning the equally slippery Jake Haener, who made loads of heroic performs in main Fresno State to a victory on the Rose Bowl final season.)

Asked about dealing with Williams, Kelly spouted his typical pablum about making corrections earlier than apply this week. The downside is, he mentioned the identical factor after his protection gave up 18 unanswered factors to Arizona State the earlier week and appeared incapable of creating any corrections towards Arizona.

As dangerous because it was, UCLA’s protection wasn’t the one perpetrator Saturday. The Bruins failed to attain no less than 30 factors for the primary time since a 44-24 loss to Utah final season, having topped that threshold in 12 consecutive video games. A blocked subject purpose, a dropped third-down go by in any other case spectacular operating again Zach Charbonnet and a fumble within the Arizona purple zone earlier than halftime all contributed to the upset.

Meeting with reporters simply earlier than Saturday become Sunday, UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson appeared glum however not devastated, suggesting that the clock had not struck midnight on the Bruins’ season.

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“We know it’s not the end, we know we have the rest of the way,” Thompson-Robinson mentioned. “Now we just focus on the next one. Put this behind us, watch the film — watch the ugly, watch the good — and move on to the next one. We got a big one coming up.”

Unfortunately for the Bruins, its recreation towards USC will not be as huge because it might have been.



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