The 2014 college football season hasn’t gone according to plan for the UCLA Bruins. Somehow, though, the Bruins seem to be doing something right, because Jim Mora’s team checked in at No. 22 in the first College Football Playoff poll.
The rankings, released Tuesday evening for the first time, are comprised of a vote by playoff selection committee members. Committee members take into account several pieces of data, including win-loss records, head-to-head matchups, strength of schedule and other pieces of data provided by SportSource Analytics. The Bruins are 6-2, with their biggest win coming back on Sept. 25 against Arizona State, who opened up ranked at No. 16 in the CFB Playoff Poll.
With the 12th-most difficult schedule in the nation, UCLA’s strength of schedule helped bolster its cause. A large part of that schedule is still ahead as well, as this week UCLA will host No. 12 Arizona. The last three opponents — Washington, Stanford and USC — aren’t currently ranked in either the Playoff or AP Polls, but it’s unlikely that the Cardinal or Trojans will remain on the outside looking in for much longer.
Oregon, who leads the Pac-12 Conference, is ranked at No. 5, one place away from being in the final-four playoff. The four teams currently in the playoff are Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss.
Oregon faces off with Stanford this week, a team that has been the Ducks’ kryptonite. With so much football left to play and the domino effect of top teams falling, there is plenty of room for the Bruins to move up if they keep winning.
It all starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
"I don’t like that term, ‘must-win’," UCLA head coach Jim Mora said. "But this game, there is an enhanced sense of urgency. There must be, and there is. I felt it today, I felt it in meetings and the important thing is that we continue to feel it on the field throughout the course of the week."