UCLA Football: Will the Bruins Continue Their Road Success?
The UCLA Football team as of late has had a lot of success on the road having won 13 of their last 16 games away from the Rose Bowl. Will the Bruins continue the trend in 2016?
As UCLA Football looks to win a conference championship for the first time in nearly twenty years, they are going to need to continue their recent road dominance. Will they continue the trend in 2016? Lets take a look.
Recently the Bruins have been a fantastic road team. Going into Stanford last season, the Bruins boasted a 12 road game win streak that extended all the way back to 2013. Amazingly, in the 2014 season the Bruins were the only team that finished in the top 25 rankings that never lost away from home.
Under Mora, UCLA has had some very notable out of conference road victories including at Nebraska after experiencing tragedy with the passing of beloved teammate Nick Pasquale (rest in peace), and over Texas in Dallas as the Bruins had a come from behind win with back up QB Jerry Neuhesiel.
Out of Conference
Looking at the out of conference schedule, while the Bruins are playing quality opponents in Texas A&M Aggies and BYU Cougars.
UCLA should be favored going into Provo this year, as it is unlikely Josh Rosen has another 3 interception game. Against the Aggies Bleacher report currently has UCLA as slim 31-28 favorites. Before I move on to conference play, there’s a few points about A&M that should should be addressed regarding the Aggies home field advantage.
While there’s much being said about Josh Rosen’s comment being taken out of context, the truth is, the Aggies are 5-5 (.500) against FBS opponents at Kyle Field in the last two seasons. While T&M can proudly state they have some of the best fans in college football, College Station has not been the most difficult place for opposing teams to win in recent years.
Given the Bruins performances and the nature of the circumstances at Nebraska and Texas, it would honestly be shocking if crowd noise played a meaningful factor in Saturday’s game.
“It’s a level of confidence that you have knowing you can handle the situations.”
-Coach Mora on opening on the road pic.twitter.com/EBooGI3kBY
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) August 31, 2016
In conference play the biggest challenge the Bruins face is not falling into trap games.
UCLA’s first conference road opponent is ASU, who is breaking in a new quarterback and is expecting to be in a rebuilding year. Funny enough, under Mora the away team has won every contest, and I’m expecting the Bruins to get revenge for last season this year in Tempe.
After ASU, the Bruins head north to Pullman to take on Washington State. Undoubtedly the Cougars will be tough opponents but I’m expecting the Bruins to continue the streak of being undefeated in the state of Washington under Mora. You can read GJB writer Michael Chavez preseason analysis of the WSU game here.
This is where UCLA needs to start being wary of trap games. I made a mistake when I did my own preview of the Colorado game, and didn’t notice that UCLA plays the Buffaloes on a Thursday night.
While there’s absolutely no reason why UCLA shouldn’t be the better team, a local 7 PM start, at high elevation, during the middle of the week are a bevy of factors that could lead to an upset. I’m expecting the Bruins to win, but don’t be surprised if it looks ugly for the third year in a row.
UCLA wraps up the season against it’s older less athletic sibling at Cal. The Bears have just kist first overall NFL draft pick in Quarterback Jared Goff, and all of their top receivers.
Without seeing considerable improvement on defense its hard to imagine the Bears doing anything but taking a step back from the previous year. The concern for the Bruins then? UCLA plays Cal on thanksgiving weekend, the week after playing against rivals USC.
The last time UCLA beat USC and played a game the next after Thanksgiving was in 2014 when the Bruins got whooped 31-10 by a struggling Stanford team. If UCLA wants to avoid anymore late season let downs they’re going to have to avoid falling into any mental traps.
Bruins should feel at ease that UCLA has already gotten ahead of the problem by hiring mental conditioning coach Trevor Moawad. Given the impact he’s already had on the team, I find it unlikely UCLA will slip up on the road. You can read more about Moawad and how he’s helped the Bruins here.
There isn’t any reason why UCLA can’t go undefeated away from home this year. UCLA is currently favored in all of their road match ups. When you look at the schedule its difficult to imagine the Bruins doing any worse than 4-2 away from the Rosebowl.
Personally, I’m very excited and optimistic for the Bruins chances this year so I’m picking them to go 6-0 away form home!