Stanford earning a 35-17 victory over UCLA this weekend was not surprising. The latter squad is not as good, plain and simple. Both teams boast potent ground attacks and solid passing games, but where they differentiate is in their ability to stop opposing ground attacks and passing games. Stanford can slow down and has slowed down the best teams in the nation; UCLA got outrushed in each of its losses (including the Cal one).
That's the difference.
Again, the Bruins falling this weekend should not have raised any eyebrows. Of course, the fact that it shouldn’t have raised any eyebrows didn’t mean that it didn’t.
You see, UCLA found itself in a very interesting situation on Saturday. A win against Stanford would have ensured a rematch against the very same foe this week for the Pac-12 title. A loss against Stanford would have meant a showdown with Oregon for the Pac-12 title. Because Jim Mora’s squad would have zero chance of beating the latter squad as opposed to a slight chance of beating Stanford, losing this weekend was actually a good thing.
And that’s the point that Los Angeles Times writer T.J. Simers tried to make to Mora after Saturday’s game.
Look, did Mora have every reason in the world to throw this game? Absolutely. Did he do it? No. UCLA is not as good as Stanford. That’s why they lost. Oregon and Stanford are two teams that are a notch above every other Pac-12 member. The fact that losing this weekend wasn’t the worst thing ever for UCLA doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t opt to lose. And Simers is smart enough to recognize that. He just likes getting into these guys’ heads. Which he obviously successfully did in this case.
(Kudos The Big Lead)