Monday, February 7, 2011
Best-worst case redo: UCLA
By ESPN.com staff
Every preseason we take a look at potential best-case and worst-case scenarios for every Pac-10 team. While these are often tongue-in-cheek, they nonetheless represent the top and bottom we see for each team.
So it might be worthwhile to revisit each.
Next up is UCLA, which finished 4-8.
Best case: 9-4 with a final No. 14 ranking after Holiday Bowl win against Missouri.
What was right: Not much, even the games we predicted the Bruins losing. Wins against Houston and Washington State were correct. Losses to California and Oregon were correct. That's about it.
What was wrong: Just about everything. Wrong on wins against Kansas State, Stanford, Arizona, Washington, Arizona State and USC. Wrong on losses to Texas and Oregon State. Wrong about the bowl game. Wrong about USC being unbeaten heading into UCLA game. Wrong about recruiting success after the season. Still unsure of the fate of USC's appeal to the NCAA.
Worst case: 4-8.
What was right: Nailed the final record, but the game picks weren't right on. Correct on losses to Stanford, Cal, Oregon, Arizona and USC. Correct on wins against Houston and Washington State. The offense was rotten and quarterback issues were at the center of that. The quote -- "The offensive struggles aren't Kevin [Prince's] fault," [coach Rick] Neuheisel says. "But we need something to change. We want to see what Richard can do" -- seems like something that might have actually been said by Neuheisel.
What was wrong: The Bruins lost at Kansas State and beat Texas, a twist that few saw coming. Their second Pac-10 victory -- other than Washington State -- was Oregon State, not Arizona State. There was little glorious about USC's season. There's no mention of bad things that happened since the end of the regular season: coaching turmoil -- both coordinators were dispatched -- and a disappointing recruiting class.
Conclusions: Obviously, the worst case here is nearly spot-on in terms of general feel, though the details are not. While USC didn't have a great season on the field, it did surge into the top-five in recruiting while the Bruins struggled. If the NCAA gives the Trojans anything back when it rules on the USC appeal, then the worst case will be even more accurate.