Friday, August 3, 2007

Number 17 with a Bullet!

So the coaches have released their first set of rankings for the season. The USA today coaches poll came out today and the Bruins come in at respectable #17. That's right about where I thought they should land; high-teens or even low twenties. I have a feeling the AP poll will be a little less generous to this team and place them closer to 2o-22; somewhere in there. There are still some very legitimate, and unanswered, questions about the UCLA offense and how productive they will be under Norvell.

Anyways, it is good to be inside the top-20. You might be inclined to brush off pre-season polls but, as was discussed this spring, a good pre-season ranking has a direct correlation to a BCS appearance. Only two teams, Wake Forrest and Boise State, started outside of the top-25 and made a BCS game in 2006. The eight other teams all started inside the top-25. Here are the pre-season ranks of the last 3-year's worth of BCS teams (teams in bold were at-large selections):

2006

Ohio State (1), USC (3), Notre Dame (3), Oklahoma (5), Florida (8),
LSU
(9), Louisville (13), Michigan (15), Boise State (NR), Wake Forest (NR).

2005

USC (1), Texas (2), Ohio State (9), Florida State (12),
Georgia (13), Notre Dame (NR), West Virginia (NR), Penn State (NR).

2004

USC (1), Oklahoma (2), Texas (8), Michigan (7),
Auburn (18), Utah (21), Pittsburgh (NR), Virginia Tech (NR).

If we're following the conventional wisdom that USC will win the PAC-10 this year then an at-large bid could still be a possibility for UCLA. I don't think Notre Dame will play in a BCS bowl this year, they just have to much to replace and have a difficult schedule. That's good news for Bruin fans as the Irish have a sweetheart deal with the BCS and usually get preferential treatment. The bad news is that going all the way back to 1998 only two PAC-10 teams, USC in 2002 and Oregon State in 2000, have gotten an at-large bid.

I'm sure all Bruin fans are eager to get back to the BCS after our first taste 10 years ago. It looks like this is our best chance in a very long time. No at-large team in the past decade has had a record with more than 2 defeats...
  • 2006: Notre Dame 10-2, LSU 10-2, Michigan 11-1, Boise Stat 12-0
  • 2005: Ohio State 9-2, Notre Dame 9-2
  • 2004: Texas 10-1, Utah 11-0
  • 2003: Ohio State 10-2, Oklahoma 12-0
  • 2002: USC 10-2, Iowa 11-1
  • 2001: Florida 9-2, Nebraska 10-2
  • 2000: Notre Dame 9-2, Oregon State 10-1
  • 1999: Michigan 9-2, Tennessee 9-2
  • 1998: Ohio State 10-1, Florida 9-2
... so 10 will have to be our minimum number of wins for the season. Obviously a PAC-10 championship will get us to the BCS but that might not be possible with a loaded Trojan team. I think 10 wins is possible as long as the offense improves a lot this year.

Anywho, Looking back at the current poll, a number of UCLA's opponents find their way in, and around, the top-25.
  • #1 USC (45 first place votes) 1481 pts.
  • #12 California 763 pts.
  • #17 UCLA 454 pts.
  • Notre Dame 90 pts.
  • Oregon State 52 pts.
  • BYU 47 pts.
  • Arizona 1 pt.
  • WSU 1 pt.
Some of those are head scratchers. Who is giving Arizona and WSU points!?! Maybe Doba and Stoops voted for each other. I think BYU and Oregon State are better than Notre Dame, but they obviously don't have the name recognition. The Coaches Poll is always a bit crazier than the AP Poll and, quite frankly, I think the AP is a much more objective and well informed group of voters. We'll have to wait and see where they place us.