Ranking UCLA Football's Biggest Developments This Season
It has been one heck of a roller coaster ride for the UCLA football team, and we're not even halfway through the season.
After this week's thrilling 34-27 victory over Utah, UCLA is off to an incredible 4-0 start for the first time since 2005.
It has been a season of ups and downs for the Bruins, from the tragic death of wide receiver Nick Pasquale to Brett Hundley's potential run at the Heisman.
Here are the 10 biggest developments that have been shaping UCLA's season.
10. All Black Everything
UCLA caused quite a stir when it revealed its new "L.A. Midnight" jerseys that will be worn on Nov. 15 against Washington.
Hate it or love it, UCLA is sending quite a statement with these jerseys.
By donning the "all black" look, the Bruins mean business this year and are out to prove they deserve the nation's attention.
9. Who Runs LA?
When it comes to football, USC has been king of Los Angeles. The Trojans have won the crosstown matchup 12 out of the last 14 times and just two years ago USC spanked UCLA, 50-0.
While the Bruins redeemed themselves last year with a 38-28 victory at the Rose Bowl, they are still out to get revenge against their neighborhood rivals.
With the USC football program currently in shambles and UCLA having its best season in recent years, it may be time to crown a new king. Even longtime Trojan fan Snoop Lion may be switching his allegiance to Blue and Gold.
8. Bye-Bye, Bye Week
UCLA had both of its bye weeks in the first four weeks, which means the Bruins will have to play nine consecutive games without a week off.
This could be a cause for concern in the second half of the season when UCLA faces tough opponents such as Stanford, Oregon and USC. An extra week to rest and prepare for a game can be the difference between winning or losing.
7. Bringing in the Recruits
While the early bye weeks may not be a good thing late in the season, the UCLA coaches made the most of the situation and used their free weekends to get a jump start on recruiting.
UCLA was the first school to give an offer to QB Blake Barnett for the 2015 season. In addition, the Bruins have their eyes on coveted offensive guard Damien Mama.
Now that its football program is rolling, UCLA will have a lot of recruiting power. The beautiful weather and gorgeous Westwood campus, snug between the hills of Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills, will be appealing to incoming recruits. Not to mention, UCLA announced a $50 million project for a new training facility for the football team.
6. Pac-12 Win over Utah
UCLA escaped with a victory in a road game against Utah. While it wasn't the Bruins' best performance, it showed they can grit out a win in a tough environment.
Hundley showed some sloppiness when he attempted to avoid a sack by throwing up a prayer that ended up being intercepted for a pick-six. More importantly though, the young QB brushed off his mistake and battled to get his team a win.
Ugly, sloppy or messy, UCLA will take a win on the road any way it can. A win is a win and the Bruins will need more of them in order to achieve the season they are hoping for.
5. The Rise of the Pac-12
While the SEC is the most dominant conference in college football history, the Pac-12 is certainly making its case for the best conference in the nation this season.
No. 2 Oregon and No. 5 Stanford are ranked among the Top Five, and three other Pac-12 teams, including UCLA, are in the Top 25.
If UCLA can pull off a win against either Oregon or Stanford, it will definitely improve its ranking in the national poll.
4. Superstar Anthony Barr
Anthony Barr has been crucial for the UCLA defense this year. In his first three games, the senior linebacker recorded 18 tackles with five tackles for loss, one sack, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
These eye-catching numbers have NFL teams keeping a close watch on Barr. Some experts have Barr above South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney in the upcoming NFL draft, and his superstar level of play has been the anchor of the UCLA football team.
3. Comeback Win over Nebraska
The emotional comeback victory against Nebraska displayed UCLA's ability to rally together in a time of grief and sadness after teammate Nick Pasquale was killed less than a week before the game.
After falling behind 21-3 in the first quarter, UCLA calmed its emotions in the second half and found an offensive rhythm. The Bruins passed and ran over the Cornhuskers and won the game 41-21.
Nebraska displayed its class with kind gestures, such as wearing the number 36 on the back of its helmets in honor of Pasquale and with a moment of silence before the game.
2. Triple-Threat Brett Hundley
He can pass, he can run, and sometimes he can even catch the ball. UCLA QB Brett Hundley scored three different ways against Utah, including a touchdown reception on a trick play.
Hundley got off to a rocket start this season building on the momentum of last year. Hundley's ability to pass the ball in high-pressure situations, topped with his tall 6'3" athletic frame, has him in the race for the Heisman Trophy.
While Hundley is getting the recognition and fame he deserves, he remains humble through it all demonstrating great leadership on and off the field.
1. RIP Nick Pasquale
The UCLA football players will always keep No. 36 Nick Pasquale in their hearts.
He has become an inspiration not only to those around him, but to those who have heard his story.
For more information on Pasquale's life, visit: http://nickpasqualefoundation.com/.
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