We know it’s a tad early — nine months too early, actually — to get excited about the 2012 college football season, but the Pac-12 released the football schedule for next fall.
Here’s what our beloved UCLA Bruins’ schedule looks like:
UCLA @ Rice, Saturday, Sept. 1
UCLA vs. Nebraska, Saturday, Sept. 8
UCLA vs. Houston, Saturday, Sept. 15
UCLA vs. Oregon State, Saturday, Sept. 22
UCLA @ Colorado, Saturday, Sept. 29
UCLA @ California, Saturday, Oct. 6
UCLA vs. Utah, Saturday, Oct. 13
Saturday, October 20: BYE
UCLA @ Arizona State, Saturday, Oct. 27
UCLA vs. Arizona, Saturday, Nov. 3
UCLA @ Washington State, Saturday, Nov. 10
UCLA vs. U$C, Saturday, Nov. 17
UCLA vs. Stanford, Saturday, Nov. 24
Some thoughts after the jump.
What’s a little odd, and what is surprising to the UCLA fan-base (based on a small sample size of the people I follow on Twitter), is that UCLA’s rivalry game with U$C is not the last conference game of the season, with a home game against a Luck-less Stanford team rounding out the year. Of course, this is apparently standard operating procedure, as tweeted by this guy:
I’m going to be honest: I’m new to the college football scene, so be patient with me. All I know is that I love football and I’m learning the ropes. Think of me as a short, pudgy version of Andrew Bynum, except I’m 19 and not 24.
Though we knew who we’d be playing (more or less) and where we’d be playing them (again, more or less), it’s a good time to speculate how well our Bruins fare against their opponents.
Our three non-conference games don’t seem all that difficult, save for a home game against a pretty good Nebraska team coming off of a 9-win season and a loss to #9 South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl. Things can change between now and September (like, you know, the world ending or whatever), but chances are, Nebraska’s going to be a consensus favorite over the Bruins when mid-September comes rollin’ around. Regardless, the team is beatable considering the Bruins are still gifted as hell. (That’s where the coaching aspect of being a head coach comes in, Jim Mora.)
The rest of our conference games? They should be easy. Obviously, you can’t expect a team with its football program (and, probably soon, athletic department) in full-on transition mode to go undefeated in conference after a 6-8 season, but from our nine conference games, we should hold an expectation of six or seven wins, while also nabbing two of three out-of-conference games (Rice is absolute crap, while Houston is losing star QB Case Keenum and head coach Kevin Sumlin).
Stanford no longer has Andrew Luck and is losing quite a few key seniors, who were one of the very few reasons the Cardinal have had a successful few years. California is just as winnable as they were last year when we demolished them at the Rose Bowl. Arizona, even with the key hiring of genius head coach Rich Rodriguez, was still one of the two worst teams in the Pac-12 (along with Colorado).
Wazzu and ASU are pretty much on our level (although the former did pick up Mike Leach before we had a chance to pick up the phone and call him), and either (or both) of those can go either way. Mind you, we have the talent and coaching staff to knock off either but the same can be said from the perspective of a Wazzu or ASU fan.
Obviously, U$C has Matt Barkley coming back and that squad is projected to be contending for a national championship with Barkley at the helm. Realistically (and objectively), we can’t demand a win against the bastard Trojans, although a valiant effort is expected.
Thus, that’s four games that can go either way (or in the favor of our opposition), leaving us with an expected record of 8-4 on the season and 6-3 in-conference. If Jim Mora makes everyone accountable as much as he says he will, and the discipline level goes up astronomically, then road games shouldn’t be as big of a pain in the ass as they were last year (we were 1-7, including the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl).
Of course, there’s no reason to think that, if everything goes as planned, UCLA goes 10-2 and 8-1 in-conference.
Only nine more months, you guys.